LAHAINA - The Old Lahaina Luau and Na Hoaloha Ekolu family of businesses celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2016 with a stunning display of philanthropy themed "30 Acts of Aloha."
The yearlong global outreach started in our neighborhood, West Maui, and extended across the island to the rest of Hawaii Nei and then to the Mainland, culminating in a service project in Laos.
The gifting was not only a show of hands-on community spirit, it was also a generous offering of monetary support; and, at the Beneficiary Dinner held last Thursday night (Feb. 2), $130,000 was donated ? $10,000 each to ten Maui non-profits and $30,000 to Hawaii Community Foundation.
From left, Michael Moore, Robert Aguiar and Tim Moore welcome the event's guests.
It was incredible ? a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience from the opening oli, spectacular Olowalu Sunset to the hypnotic voices, drumming and dance of three emissaries from the Blackfoot Nation and the melodic styling and crooning of internationally acclaimed Hawaiian slack key composer and singer Makana.
Dinner was five-star as well, with courses prepared by Chef Maria Wagner from the Blackfoot Nation and Chef Ivan Pahk of Na Hoaloha; desert was flown in from Junior's Cheesecake, New York City.
Na Hoaloha Ekolu means "three friends" in Hawaiian, and Michael Moore, Tim Moore and Robert Aguiar are the inspiration behind the growth and success of their 30-year-old company, including Old Lahaina Luau, Aloha Mixed Plate, Star Noodle, Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop and Hoaloha Farms.
"This year the Old Lahaina Luau celebrated its 30th anniversary," Tim explained to the banquet guests. "We chose to honor this event by what we call '30 Acts of Aloha.' In the end, (however), it turned out to be '65 Acts of Aloha.' "
"Our employees volunteered over 4,000 hours this past year, and the top 30 volunteers that are with us tonight volunteered alone over 2,200 hours. It goes without saying, we are amazingly proud of and honored by our employees."
Michael agreed: "I gotta thank our incredible, amazing, humbling ohana of employees for really standing for what our vision of '30 Acts of Aloha' was all about as a way to celebrate our 30th year. Along with their contributions and fundraising efforts, Na Hoaloha Ekolu is able to support the important work of all the organizations who are with us tonight."
"I want to take this time to say mahalo to each of those organizations for all you do to make Maui a better place for all of us," Michael continued.
"These ten groups were chosen by our staff and employees," Michael added, "and they represent a wide range of support services and missions," including Boys and Girls Clubs of Maui, Friends of the Children's Justice Center, Imua Family Services, Lahaina Arts Association, Maui Cultural Lands, Maui Hui Malama Learning Center, Maui Humane Society, The Maui Farm and East Maui Animal Refuge.
Paul Tonnessen, executive director of Friends of the Children's Justice Center, described the impact of the $10,000 to their nonprofit: "You guys truly show Maui the true meaning of giving, and the children are the ones that thank you for this, because it is going to make a difference in their lives."
Kelly Pearson, CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Maui, was almost speechless. "Wow, thank you so much, yeah, because every penny will definitely save a kid's life, I guarantee you that."
The Maui Cultural Lands check was accepted by Ekolu Lindsey on behalf of his mother, Puanani Lindsey, and his late father, Ed Lindsey, founder of Maui Cultural Lands.
In an interview after the event, Lindsey told the Lahaina News, " I was in shock. I couldn't believe Na Hoaloha Ekolu was being so generous. Then I found out the employees did fundraisers to donate to the lucky recipients, and the owners matched it. WOW, who does that? This is incredible and should set the bar for all businesses established in Hawaii."
"We are blessed to have Na Hoaloha Ekolu in our community," the Lahaina community leader added. "Their focus on employee capacity building strengthens interpersonal bonds within the company ? a great model for others to follow. They exemplify my father's quote: 'People who help the land and the culture, who give unselfishly for the sake of the land, they are the heroes, the real warriors.' "
" This is a testament to the leadership of Na Hoaloha Ekolu and the ohana that share the same values/vision," Lindsey advised.
"Giving back to the community is a huge part of our company," Aguiar acknowledged. "It's one of the elements that we feel really blossomed this year with the '30 Acts,' making everyone aware of what real volunteerism is, where it can take you and the experiences it can bring for you."
"They went above and beyond the call, of even their own expectations," Lindsey observed.
"This is one of the coolest kokua moments I have ever heard of," Lindsey added. "I believe sharing our cultural values nationally and internationally empowers and opens the minds of all those who participate ? chicken skin."
Next week, learn more about the secret to the Na Hoaloha Ekolu fundraising successes, the top 30 volunteer employees and the "30 Acts of Aloha."