Our Stories

Our Stories


HC&S’s $100,000 Community Investment

Alexander & Baldwin demonstrated its long-standing commitment to the Maui community in an exciting new way last year. The Company’s $100,000 HC&S Community Initiative, a grant-making effort guided and directed by Maui residents to address community priorities, funded the innovative programs of 16 nonprofits and community groups.

Here is how three programs were impacted by these grants.

Paddling with a Purpose

The Mana‘olana Pink Paddlers, an outrigger canoe club based in Kihei, Maui,  is helping cancer survivors regain their health one stroke at a time.

Established in 2006 to reach out to breast cancer survivors, “The Pinks” shared Maui Canoe Club’s boats to get women out on the water and re-building their strength through paddling. The club raised money to purchase two of their own canoes and, by 2012, due to a growing interest, opened membership to all who have been stricken by cancer or impacted by the disease, either through a family member or friend.

Paddling an outrigger canoe is a daunting challenge for some members, whose average age is 65. A $5,700 HC&S Community Initiative grant gave the club the boost it needed to acquire two used canoes and convert them into a double-hulled canoe, painted in ‘club pink’, of course.

Launched in the fall of 2014, the new boat with a double name, Lokomaika‘i and Lokahi, provides a steadier paddling experience and gives more cancer survivors access to this body- and soul-strengthening sport. It also accommodates more guests for the ashes-to-sea memorial services that the Pink Paddlers offer for a modest fee.

The new boat not only makes the club more financially sustainable, but it’s the only way that some of the frail or timid members will get out on the water. “It’s a beautiful journey watching them grow in strength and tenacity for life through paddling,” acknowledges Mana‘olana President Mary Dungans. “The grant was a huge leap for us.”

Touching Lives through Technology

For more than four decades, Maui Adult Day Care Centers have been a source of support for kupuna and their families. Through five centers across the island, the nonprofit provides nutritious meals, therapeutic programs and stimulating social activities in a caring environment for frail seniors who are mentally or physically challenged. Ninety-five percent of those served have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

Last year, a $12,500 HC&S Community Initiative grant enabled the organization to purchase 25 iPads – five for each center – whose simple, touch-screen technology has brought an exciting, new dimension to MADCC’s program. “There are a whole bunch of apps and games designed for those in varying stages of memory loss,” says Executive Director Sandy Freeman, who discovered therapeutic uses for iPads at a national conference.

Simple programs with pictures, colors or music help reduce the restlessness and anxiety that often accompany dementia. Higher functioning individuals further benefit from the memory games and other brain-strengthening programs that are accessible on the iPads.

High school volunteers are helping source and download new apps, and the organization is learning along the way, discovering which programs are the most effective for those they serve.

“We’re seeing results and are very thankful for the support that’s been given to us,” Freeman says.

Making Music Matter

Every Thursday evening at Keolahou Church in Kihei, a hundred or so people – Maui residents and visitors – gather for a free ‘ukulele lesson cum jam session with Jarret “Kumu Kealoha” Delos Santos. They don’t play anything fancy, just simple, traditional Hawaiian songs ‘from the heart.’

The Maui native has played the ‘ukulele since his youth, but it wasn’t until he played for his mother following her stroke that he saw the deep and positive impact of Hawaiian music. He began offering the free lessons in 2008, and he made instructional videos to share on YouTube.

Internet giant Yahoo ‘discovered’ Jarret’s videos in 2013, came to film his sessions for the Howcast series, and put his free music program on the global map. 808Ukejams was born. Since then the organization has grown to more than 500 members. Youth members have opportunities to hone their performance skills by playing at community events and for guests at Kamaole Sands, where Delos Santos is the general manager.

With its $3,500 HC&S Community Initiative grant, 808Ukejams was able purchase three ‘ukuleles for winners of its annual essay contest, which invites kids to express “Who you are and how will your new ‘ukulele change the world.” The grant also funded ten ukes for a new music program that Delos Santos launched in partnership with Hawaii Behavioral Health to teach music to at-risk youth.

“It’s really uplifting to know that others believe in us and the difference we are making through ‘ukulele music,” says Delos Santos.


Safety Selfies Support Maui’s Youth!

For its second annual Safety Selfie Photo Contest, HC&S and East Maui Irrigation challenged Maui youth centers and their members to find creative ways to use ‘selfies’ to encourage Maui’s keiki to stay out of irrigation ditches and cane-haul roads and engage instead in other fun – and safe – activities. Each center received $250 for participating in the contest, along with “Play Hard. Play Safe!” branded trucker hats to use as photo props.

A total of $13,000 was donated to seven centers, including cash prizes ranging from $250 to $3,000 for the winning entries. All 60 entries were posted on the HC&S website, and the public was invited to vote on their favorite photos.  A panel of local judges, including Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, selected other winning images in various categories.

With three winning selfies, including the Viewers Favorite, Hana Youth Center captured top honors and $4,500 in prize money that will help the club purchase a new van.

Each young photographer was presented with a 2015 calendar displaying all 60 selfies; additional copies of the calendar were donated to each participating center to sell as a fundraiser.

Honoring Outstanding Keiki

Since 1997, Grace Pacific’s Outstanding Keiki Awards program has put a spotlight on exceptional fifth-grade students from four public elementary schools in the Kapolei-Makakilo area. In 2014, the program honored 80 deserving youngsters chosen by their teachers for academic performance, leadership skills and citizenship.

These hard-working honorees proved they could have fun, too, when they were hosted by Grace Pacific for a full day of activities. They started the day by fueling up with breakfast at Kapolei Middle School, followed by hiking, swimming and team-building activities at Camp Timberline and an awards dinner for students and their families.

When these Outstanding Keiki become high school seniors, they will be eligible for Grace Pacific scholarships to help further their education.

Over the years, the company has recognized nearly 1,300 fifth-graders and has awarded $137,500 in scholarships.


Addressing Basic Human Needs

For decades, A&B has set aside a significant portion of its grants to support a broad range of health and human services providers, offering a helping hand or a needed leg up for those less fortunate. Here are two stories that inspire us to advance the health of our community.

Maui Food Bank

Fresh Hope for Maui’s Hungry
Each day, 9,000 pounds of food leave the Maui Food Bank warehouse, bound for soup kitchens and parish pantries, homeless shelters, youth clubs, senior programs and other partner agencies on three islands that help ensure that no one goes hungry.

Through food drives, board leadership and more than $180,000 in donations, A&B and its Maui companies have helped Maui Food Bank sustain this lifeline since 1988.

A $15,000 donation from A&B in 2013 is helping to fund new energy-efficient chilling units that will quadruple Maui Food Bank’s capacity to store and distribute fresh produce, dairy and other refrigerated foods. It’s part of the Food Bank’s “Fresh 4 All” commitment to provide nutritious food options to Maui County’s men, women and children in need.

Kaunoa Senior Services

Nourishing the Body and Soul

What began in 1976 as an opportunity for A&B to support its HC&S retirees is today an enduring commitment to a program that nourishes the lives of more than 1,500 seniors across Maui each year.

The Maui County-run Kaunoa Senior Services Nutrition Program operates 12 sites where active seniors can gather for a healthy midday meal and a variety of educational activities and social opportunities. Serving more than 88,000 meals last year, it’s a service that feeds the soul as much as the body and mind.

A&B’s annual support helps ensure that Maui’s kupuna can enjoy at least one nutritious weekday meal. In 2013, in addition to a $20,000 grant to Kaunoa’s congregate dining program, A&B sponsored Kaunoa’s second annual plantation-themed Kumiai Day. Dozens of HC&S employees served mixed plates and staffed a farmers market and multicultural games.

Building Brighter Futures

To ensure our communities have the proper building blocks in place, A&B is committed to education — investing in programs that provide opportunities for education, employment, and entrepreneurship throughout the state. Here is a story that is an inspiration to us all at A&B, and why we work hard to build brighter futures for our community.

Doris Todd Christian Academy

Building a Field of Dreams

A grassy, new courtyard and adjacent basketball court have become the heart of Doris Todd Christian Academy’s 50-year-old campus in Upcountry Maui. The campus upgrades bring to life the vision of Doris Todd parent Karmen Brown and her children who wanted to match the school’s physical grounds to the quality of its education.

A $7,500 grant from A&B gave the $25,000 project a significant leg up, but thousands of dollars’ worth of donated materials, services and sweat equity contributed by HC&S, KT&S and EMI and their employees tripled the value of the funds raised and laid the foundation for future school improvements.

Today, students and staff traverse the rehabilitated courtyard via new sidewalks and the new basketball half-court, enjoyed by even the youngest athletes, rules the playground area.