KIHEI - Last month, A Cup of Cold Water (ACCW), A Community Care Van took its first run following a Sunday morning service and blessing at Trinity-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Kihei.
The four Episcopal churches on Maui have banded together with community friends to establish a new outreach ministry to the homeless, poor and needy on Maui.
The ACCW ministry will deliver basic needs - water, nutrition, clothing, hygiene items and comfort - to the homeless in different parts of the island through the van.
There are an estimated 2,000 homeless people on the island.
The name of the ministry comes from Matthew 10:42: "Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple - truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward."
All four Maui Episcopal Churches - Good Shepherd Church in Wailuku, Trinity by-the-Sea, St. John's Church in Kula and Holy Innocents Church in Lahaina - and community friends gathered just over a year ago and laid the foundation for the outreach ministry.
It took just over nine months to raise the start-up funding, recruit 25-plus volunteers, organize training in homeless outreach, develop an operations plan, create and stock a storage and distribution space, develop a logo and acquire the van.
Their efforts were strongly supported by Rev. R.L. Fitzpatrick, bishop of Hawaii, and by the Diocesan Council, which granted $5,000 for Mission Beyond the Church.
The project also received a $15,000 United Thank Offering (UTO) grant from the national Episcopal Church Women toward the cost of a van.
The new 2012 Nissan NV 3500 High Ceiling Cargo Van was purchased for $28,000 from the Tony Nissan Group of Honolulu, which generously outfitted the van with commercial shelving and paid the vehicle registration fees and shipping costs to Maui.
An anonymous local gift matching the UTO grant helped secure the purchase.
The van arrived on Maui in August and was blessed by Bishop Fitzpatrick.
The congregations of Maui's Episcopal churches have been donating items that will be distributed to the homeless, including bottled water; caps and hats; T-shirts; rubber slippers and shoes; hygiene items, including toothpaste, toothbrushes, lip balm, bandages, shampoo, hand sanitizer, soap and feminine hygiene products; and nonperishable snack items.
Five volunteers have taken responsibility for organizing all the donated items and purchasing supplies for the van runs.
Fifteen extensively trained ACCW volunteers participated as run leaders or team members for the van's first run in October.
The ACCW team was inspired by the dedication of other faith-based community efforts that have served the homeless on Maui for many years. They have joined these efforts by initially offering runs three times a week: Sundays in Khei and South Maui, Wednesdays in Central Maui and Saturdays in Lahaina and West Maui.
As the program grows, van runs will be expanded to other parts of the island, including East Maui and Upcountry.
ACCW Board of Directors President Kekuhaupio "Keku" Akana has been coordinating with other outreach and social service groups, so that A Cup of Cold Water's runs are scheduled when others are not providing services to the homeless.
Board members include Rev. Linda Decker, John Decker, Mary Lou Mellinger, K. Peter Lee, Mark Sitts, Paula Baldwin, Jay Jackson and Jean Fiddes. Bishop Fitzpatrick is ex-officio chairman of the board.
The all-volunteer team comes from all walks of life. Team members are nourished by prayer and fellowship.
You don't need to be a member of the Episcopal Church to join - you just need to have the desire to help.
"This is a community effort, and we eagerly look forward to other churches and community partners on the island joining the Cup of Cold Water team," said Akana.
To volunteer, donate or for more information, contact Akana or Board Secretary Mellinger at (808) 419-1637 or AcupofColdWaterMaui@gmail .com.
The ACCW ministry is a nonprofit corporation organized by the Episcopal Diocese in Hawaii. Tax-deductible donations can be sent to A Cup of Cold Water, 2140 Main St., Wailuku, HI 96793.
Read more about A Cup of Cold Water at www.episcopalhawaii.org/Ministry%20Together/a-cup-of-cold-water.html.