Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers, Inc., a shelter for homeless individuals on Maui, extended appreciation and gratitude to Amazon Founder and Executive Chair Jeff Bezos for his recent personal donation. It’s the latest in a growing list of Maui nonprofits identified as recipients of “personal donations” from the e-commerce executive.

Monetary donations of unspecified amounts were also gifted by Jeff Bezos to Habitat for Humanity Maui, the Mālama Family Recovery Center, the Hawaiʻi Land Trust, the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center and The Maui Farm.

The funds will be used to create a new job-training program, providing training in the culinary arena for shelter participants, formerly incarcerated persons, and young adults aging out of the foster-care system.

“Providing our marginalized and poverty-stricken community members with a skill set to succeed and thrive is an important part of our mission to break the cycle of homelessness. Initiating this new program focused on job training will not only provide our shelter program participants with opportunities in the work world but help meet the dire labor situation in the county today,” said Monique Ibarra, Executive Director. “We‘re honored that Mr. Bezos chose us to support.”

Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers has been serving the homeless community in Maui County since 1986. Ka Hale A Ke Ola’s Wailuku and Lahaina locations provide safe and secure emergency shelter with nutritional meals served onsite and housing programs that assist as many as 1,500 individuals on Maui each year. Additionally, Ka Hale A Ke Ola coordinates a comprehensive range of programs and services aimed at empowering individuals and families to become responsible, self-sufficient and contributing members of the community. All case management services are geared to obtaining and maintaining permanent housing.

Ka Hale A Ke Ola is dedicated to serving the needs of the homeless and hungry on Maui by providing emergency food and housing, voicing their concerns, and empowering them to take responsibility for their own lives and to call on the community to assist in these actions.

The Beginning

Ka Hale A Ke Ola began sheltering the homeless on November 26, 1986 in an old church building in Pu‘unēnē. We only had $26 and the idealistic drive that we could make it work. The building was 50 years old with faulty electrical and plumbing. Dirt blowing in from nearby cane fields made it virtually impossible to keep the shelter clean, but shelter workers persevered.

Community volunteers built partitions to give families privacy. Twenty-eight church groups, service organizations and local businesses volunteered to provide dinners on a rotating basis. KHAKO survived and in its first five years, it sheltered, fed and clothed more than 3,600 residents.

KHAKO’s Board of Directors soon recognized many residents needed more than food and shelter to break the cycle of homelessness. KHAKO began serving as a referral center, connecting residents with employment agencies, rental-assistance programs and other social services.

In 1991, KHAKO began offering life-skills classes designed to break the pattern of homelessness — classes in budgeting, parenting and communication. KHAKO blossomed into a comprehensive resource center that provides emergency shelter, transitional housing, adult education and training, counseling, a primary-care medical clinic and facilities for child care.

KHAKO impacts the Maui community across many platforms, including sheltering 863 residents in two facilities, serving 46,876 meals and helping 294 individuals to become permanently housed in 2020. KHAKO works to help lift up individuals and families so to overcome economic challenges that can lead to homelessness.