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Maui Nei

There’s is much to be thankful for on Maui, starting with the island. There is no better place in the world to live – beautiful and still a small town despite all. Aloha lives in the hearts of many.

On any given day there are hundreds, if not thousands, of islanders who freely give time and money to held the less fortunate among us – the homeless, the afflicted, the young and the old. It’s a long list.

The Maui United Way, itself powered by volunteers, is a 50-year-old umbrella organization that consolidates fundraising campaigns for 39 agencies. Donations may be made by individuals and businesses. Participating employers can automatically deduct individual gifts from paychecks.

Even with today’s general affluence, families can face tough times. Maui United Way agencies are there to ease the burdens of modern life.

The AFL-CIO draws on union members to assist families. Catholic Charities Hawaii’s Community of Hope program provides emergency financial assistance. Malama I Ke Ola Health Center preserves and fixes the teeth of low-income and at-risk residents. Feed My Sheep is an islandwide mobile food distribution program stocking food for meals provided by churches and others.

Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers has transitional housing and training in the skills needed to be employed. Early Head Start is run by Maui Family Support Services with child development and education services for needy families. Maui Family YMCA provides financial assistance.

The Maui Farm has transitional housing and lifestyle skills training for homeless families and those families on the brink of homelessness. The Maui County chapter of The Salvation Army has general family and individual services. In addition to money from the United Way, The Salvation Army collects additional donations this time of year with kettles and bell-ringers.

Other agencies are aimed at more specific needs.

Aloha House has a live-in, medically monitored detoxification program for adults addicted to alcohol and other drugs, including the current scourge of crystal methamphetamine. The Aloha Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association has classes and counseling for heartbroken family caregivers. Malama Family Recovery Center is for women who are homeless and/or need help recovering from addictions.

PATCH, People Attentive to Children, has a training program for caregivers of infants and toddlers. Women Helping Women provides emergency shelter and support for victims of domestic violence. Child and Family Services is combating sexual assault with education and prevention. The Hawaii Meth Project is fighting addiction with education for youths and young adults.

Habitat for Humanity builds and renovates housing. Hospice Maui provides compassionate care for those with serious, often terminal illnesses and all-important support of the families involved. Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Hawaii helps individuals climb out of credit debt.

Once upon a time, mentally and emotionally disabled individuals were hidden away by their families. Today, those individuals can develop physical fitness and social skills by competing in Special Olympics. Planned Parenthood provides health care and family planning for the uninsured and underinsured. Best Buddies Hawaii has a school-based program to provide one-to-one friendships for those without intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Programs aimed specifically at children include Big Brothers Big Sisters; Imua Family Services for children who have fallen behind in their development; Boy Scouts; Girl Scouts; Ohana Makamae, with education and support for mothers and their families; Parents and Children Together; the Pa’ia Youth & Cultural Center, which teaches, provides a daily balanced meal for youth and has a youth-operated radio station; Boys and Girls Club; the Book Trust, with books for children in low-income families; and Maui Youth and Family Services’ substance abuse treatment for adolescents.

Other United Way agencies are the Maui AIDS Foundation, American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, Maui Adult Day Care Center, Mediation Services for conflict resolution, Mental Health America of Hawaii, Mental Health Kokua and the Lahaina Arts Association.

United Way donors can specify the agency they want to support.

There are other contributors to the island’s well-being, including individuals who simply help because help is needed – a hallmark of life on Maui.

To one and all: Thanks, eh.

* Ron Youngblood is a retired editor and staff writer for the Maui News. His email address is ryoungblood@hawaii.rr.com.

Maui Nei

It was a gorgeous day, but cool, particularly after a week or so of higher than normal temperatures. Up in Kula thermometers had dipped into the 50s before the sun made its debut. The outline of Haleakala was an etching against the cloudless sky.

A rare visit to Kuau and a later visit to Old Maui High School were prompted by a request that has grown rare. A friend needed a truck to move an accumulation of green waste to the Central Landfill, once referred to as “the dump.” Not that many years ago, that kind of hauling help was routine. There are a couple of reasons for the change.

Pickups are a different breed today. A lot of them are four-door rigs with all the inside luxury of a sedan, but with the durability necessary to negotiate rough back roads. Maui has become truck country, even in town. The Maui News this week reported 56.8 percent of new vehicles sold during the first nine months of the year were light trucks.

The request resulted in a rare visit to Kuau Store, once a mom-and-pop spot for snacks favored by the surfing crowd. The store now has an upscale deli and “health” beverages in addition to traditional junk food, beer and sodas. The menu includes freshly made vegetarian sandwiches and fancy coffee. “Last stop before Hana,” says a chalkboard sign facing the highway. A mural graces the wall overlooking the off-highway parking spots. The painting features a shark and a surfer carving a huge wave.

While finishing a can of diet soda and getting directions to the green waste, an old friend and one-time boss pulls up. Jan Dapitan retired from the county to tirelessly work for environmental nonprofits, too many of them to be listed here. Her arrival is serendipitous. She wants to talk later in her office on the Old Maui High campus. “Don’t worry about it if you get busy and can’t make it today,” she says. “I’m there any day,” trying to hand off her many successful projects to make way for her second retirement.

First, the dump run. A “small load” turns into a bed-filling pu’u of palm fronds, fern stalks and unidentified cuttings. A 6-by-8-foot tarp covers only two-thirds of the load. A variety of bungee cords always carried in the truck secure the rest of the stuff.

“I’ve heard the police are watching for trucks with unsecured loads,” says Frank, the friend.

The run to huge mounds of incipient compost means following the “Eco” signs down and around the entrance to the landfill on a lumpy stretch of gravel potholes. It’s not only a drop-off, first-class compost is available for purchase.

There’s time to head up Holomua Road to what is left of Hamakuapoko, a one-time village long since turned into cane fields. Old Maui High was the second high school built on the island. Lahainaluna was the first and Baldwin was the third. The way to Old Maui High, which opened in 1913 when Paia-Haiku was the center of Maui’s population, is through a tunnel of huge old trees. The school was closed in 1971 with students moved to the new Maui High in Kahului.

The county is looking for someone to take over Old Maui High’s parklike 26-acre campus. One idea is to turn the main campus into a retail village with houses built around it. The C.W. Dickey-designed main building, now just walls, would be maintained and possibly restored.

Another idea is to turn it into an environmental center named for Patsy Takemoto Mink, a 1944 Maui High graduate who went on to become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Mink is credited with the passage of a series of landmark laws, most notably Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination by federally funded institutions, giving females the same opportunities as males, athletically and otherwise. She also served as the U.S. assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs in Jimmy Carter’s administration.

Mink is scheduled to be given a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom on Monday by President Barack Obama.

The future of her high school alma mater depends on who is willing to do what.

* Ron Youngblood is a retired editor and staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is ryoungblood@hawaii.rr.com.

Maui Nei

For a country bumpkin, flying off to Oahu is a big deal. A few decades ago, it wasn’t. The job required a flight every couple of months and nearly daily visits to the land of OGG to send film to the office over there. The frequent interisland flights were quick and easy. The Aloha counter people were happy to stuff the film into a special envelope that would be carried by the crew of the next flight.

Decide to fly to the Busy Isle, make a half-hour drive to the Kahului terminal. Leave the motorcycle in the parking lot and walk a few yards. Dodge any mynah birds intent on bombing the center of the terminal. They liked to roost in the banyan growing up through the roof.

Make a left turn to the interisland counters, usually stopping at Aloha. Book the flight leaving in a few minutes. If there was no space, the Aloha guy would call down to the Hawaiian guy. “You have a seat on the next flight?” Most of the time, there would be. Both Aloha and HAL flew every half-hour.

Shuffle down to the HAL counter. Exchange money for a ticket. Walk through the terminal past the stairs leading up to Web Beggs’ restaurant and out the door. Amble across the tarmac. Climb the stairs to the plane and off you went for a half-hour flight.

The total elapsed time between decision and arrival at the Interisland Terminal in Honolulu was maybe two hours. No sweat, no strain. Today, the same effort will take something like three hours, if . . .

A few days before the flight, at any time of the day or night, head for a computer. There’s a good possibility a smartphone, tablet or whatever gee-whiz gizmo will do. Punch up the airline website. Easy enough after the first time of guessing what toggles to click on. Go through the options. Book a flight. Pay via plastic. Get a confirmation and receive the ticket code via email.

Print out a boarding pass 24 hours before the flight if the printer is working. If not, wait until the time of the flight. Get to the airport a full hour or more before the flight. Don’t cut it too close. Miss the preflight time allowed by as little as five minutes or spend too much time fumbling with the computer and the screen will tell you will have to wait until the next flight an hour later.

If it isn’t busy, one of the counter women will help navigate the sign-in until the computer belches a boarding pass. One neat feature. Doing all this electronically will get you through the short-line security checkpoint with a minimum of delay. Don’t wear a belt with a fancy metal buckle. It’ll trip the walk-through metal detector.

On the other end, make a long walk through the Honolulu terminal. It’s best to have someone ready to drive you away. If that’s not possible and you didn’t book a rental car or shuttle, it’s another long walk to the line of taxicabs. Spend another hour or so dealing with a driver whose English is rudimentary or heavily cloaked by an accent. Language problems, particularly with a complicated address in upper Manoa Valley, will add $20 or so to the tab. If there is a next time, go with map in hand.

A few other complications experienced recently:

At the Kahala Mall, use the lua. After business is concluded, stand in front of the lavatory. Auwe. No buttons, no handles. Ask a local, “So, how do you make it go? He demonstrates, sticking hands under the faucet to get the water flowing. Get a sideways glance. He’s not familiar with a country boy being in the big city.

A trip to Iolani Palace involved figuring out a gizmo that tells you what you’re seeing. The gizmo and headphones go with a pair of booties put on over shoes. It’s a stretch with boots. The tour is well worth taking. A modern elevator is the way upstairs. No one gets to walk on the original staircase. In the basement, there is a series of photographs taken when the palace was a $350,000 seat of government.

Think about having missed the palace being used by territorial and state government by one year. In 1969, the Legislature, governor, et al., used the Capitol building for the first time. The palace was closed for years for renovations and acquisition of many – but not all – of the original furnishings, all sold at auction after the 1893 overthrow of the monarchy.

It was good to get home to Maui where most things are a heckuva lot simpler. At least, for a country boy.

* Ron Youngblood is a retired editor and staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is ryoungblood@hawaii.rr.com.

Maui Nei

Wayne Tanaka was a colleague first, a friend later. There were shared interests: the photographic history of Maui, a devotion to hometown journalism and making the job priority No. 1. It’s tough writing about a 45-year mainstay of Maui life.

Early on, Wayne seemed to be something of a darkroom troll. Despite getting paid to work Monday through Friday, he’d come in on Saturday to process a print to accompany a “Maui People” feature for the Sunday paper – a feature always written at the last possible moment.

“That’s a picture I’d been proud to take,” he once said about one of the “Maui People” portraits. There was no greater compliment for a reporter whose technical abilities with a camera were, at best, rudimentary. He never mentioned photographic shortcomings. Wayne was an old-styled islander, always soft-spoken and polite.

His Maui-boy approach served him well in the days when many residents shied away from having their pictures taken. Individually, they thought it unseemly. This was in the days before social media made self-aggrandizement routine.

It was a different story if there was some club or organization event that could use some publicity. Wayne’s telephone rang regularly with requests for the kind of coverage usually shunned by reporters and editors. It took creativity to produce a shot that would end up in the paper. He seldom failed.

He was the go-to guy for all sorts of photo gigs, including putting together portfolios for would-be models. He’d grin when talking about how rough it was to shoot pictures of good-looking young women.

For decades, Wayne was known for covering sporting events. During the interview for his retirement piece, he laughed about having “retired” twice. The first time as sports editor and the second time as chief photographer. He defined sports very liberally.

One morning, he was banging away on a mechanical typewriter, listing all of the individual results of a bowling tournament at the request of someone. The office had installed a new computer system and, as usual, did little or nothing to teach staffers how to use the equipment. Wayne wasn’t opposed to progress, he just found the learning process unnecessarily complicated and time consuming.

“Hey, Wayne, it would be a lot easier to do all that on a computer,” he was told. He just shrugged. Hard work was nothing new.

“Here, do this and when you get it all on the screen, give me a call.” In short order, he made the call. A few days later, he was asking about the more sophisticated aspects of his typewriter’s replacement. After he retired, he spent hours digitizing his old photographs, going far beyond his mentor’s abilities.

At one point, the newspaper was about to throw out decades of negatives. Wayne thought destroying that record of Maui’s evolution unthinkable. He took the negatives to the immaculate photo studio he had added to his home.

Some years ago, part of his photo archives became part of a play I wrote. The idea was to context the performance with photographs projected on a screen. He readily agreed to participate. Wayne turned negatives into slides, which Tim Wolfe turned into a video.

At the performances of the play, members of the audience flocked to a posted list of the who, what and when of Wayne’s photos, proof positive of the public interest in images from Maui’s past. In many respects, the shots were the best part of the play.

He was equally agreeable to making a superb print of a shot he made to go with a story about the restoration of a locomotive. The print hangs in an honored spot on the living room wall. When shown how the framed photo is being displayed, he characteristically said:

“If I’d known what you were going to do with that shot, I’d given you a better print.” As if that were possible.

In addition to working on his photos, Wayne spent his retirement years baby-sitting grandchildren, playing golf and getting together with cronies for coffee and burgers. As he grew more hard of hearing, emails were substituted for infrequent visits to his home.

For a skinny, little guy, Mutsuo Wayne Tanaka leaves a very big hole in the fabric of Maui life. He’ll be missed by everyone he ever met and everyone who ever saw one of his photographs. He died Oct. 30. He was 83. Services will be held Nov. 15 at the Wailuku Hongwanji Mission beginning at 3:45 p.m.

Aloha ‘oe, tomodachi.

* Ron Youngblood is a retired editor and staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is ryoungblood@hawaii.rr.com.

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