LAHAINA - The integrity and well-being of village communities like Lahaina are built upon strong family values that are shaped and paid forward generation to generation.
Some townships grow into cities and lose the intimacy of those family ties, while others literally crumble and disappear - dust to dust, ashes to ashes - into faded and longed-for memories.
Here on the West Side of the Valley Isle, things are different. The family values that bond the people of this village are woven deeply into the socioeconomic fabric of the community - forged by the bright, and sometimes merciless, Lahaina sun to steel all with spiritual strength and optimism for a positive future.
Tekiri Rickard will work in the Obstetrics Unit at Maui Memorial Medical Center.
The Dean and Stephanie Rickard 'ohana of Lahaina deeply manifests this family fortitude, as they have passed on their commitment to social welfare in their employment careers and, more importantly, in the upbringing of their three children, to their community.
While Stephanie has worked with the state Work Services Development Division, husband Dean has made a career with the Maui County Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division. He recently graduated from the 249th session of the FBI National Academy and has served as an offensive line coach with the Lahainaluna High School football team for 25 years.
Throughout their careers, the fruits of their attention to the upbringing of their children - Tekiri, Teanu and Teani - have shined brightly as a guiding light to the future.
Most recently, Tekiri, the oldest of the Rickard keiki, earned a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing from the University of Hawaii at Hilo and the University of Nevada, Reno. She is a 2007 graduate of Lahainaluna, where she followed a health services pathway with HOSA and Club MED in school.
She always dreamed of having a career as a nurse.
"I knew from my sophomore year that I wanted to work in the health care field," she recalled from the idyllic Rickard home at the end of a cul-de-sac in Kilauea Mauka.
"Then, things happened so fast - it was just amazing," Tekiri recalled with bright-eyed glee. "An opening came up at Maui Memorial Hospital in the Obstetrics Unit there, so I applied for the position and took the licensing test on July 12, and I had just graduated in May. When they called while I was visiting family in Hilo, I was so happy - I was jumping up and down. It was always my goal to come back home and try to provide an extra hand to help people and the community. It feels really good to be home."
What Tekiri perhaps didn't know was that mom Stephanie had been attending financial planning sessions during those years, and with Dean had worked to establish a solid pathway for their daughter to maneuver the oftentimes daunting challenge of higher education.
Today, next in the Rickard lineup is Teanu, who has transferred to begin his second year of college at Southern Oregon University.
Following in his father's footsteps first as an unsung hero of the Luna football team anchoring the offensive line at center, and today as a college student majoring in criminal justice, the fruit falls not far from the family tree as Teanu moves forward to embellish the Rickard family line.
And what of Teani, the youngest of Dean and Stephanie's kids? She's just entered Lahaina Intermediate School as a sixth-grader and, with the brightest pair of eyes in the family, perhaps will become a visionary leader who promotes family values from the big square building in Honolulu or maybe even from the big, big house in Washington, D.C. We wouldn't be surprised.