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Matson Gifts $100,000 to Help Displaced Maui Sugar Workers

Posted January 9, 2017, 04:36 PM HST Updated January 11, 2017, 07:59 AM HST
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Puʻunēnē Sugar Mill. Photo by Wendy Osher.

The Matson Foundation has gifted the A Hui Hou Fund with a $100,000 grant to augment widespread community support for displaced sugar workers on Maui.

The A Hui Hou Fund, launched in April by a group of concerned citizens in partnership with Maui United Way, was created to provide emergency relief assistance to workers being laid off as a result of the closure of Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company.

With the latest gift of $100,000 from the Matson Foundation, the fund has amassed close to $150,000 in donations to date.

Funds will be used to assist former HC&S workers in need with rent, mortgage, utilities, education costs and other basic needs.

“Matson’s roots in Hawaiʻi began in the 1880’s with Captain William Matson’s vessels shipping plantation supplies to Hawaiʻi and raw sugar to the US mainland. Our company worked closely with HC&S for more than 60 years,” said Matt Cox, CEO of Matson and president of the Matson Foundation. “All of us at Matson have a deep respect for the workers of HC&S, many of whom represent generations of families who helped build the community on Maui and an industry that shaped Hawaiʻi as we know it.”

“We feel for the workers who are transitioning to new lives and know that the A Hui Hou Fund will put our contribution to the best use for these families,” added Buzz Fernandez, Matson’s district manager on Maui.

The fund was created by a steering committee spearheaded by Maui resident Alice Lee who said, “We are deeply grateful to the Matson Foundation for its very generous support as well as to all the companies and residents who contributed to the fund this year.  We appreciate the way the community has rallied together to help those in need.”

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The A Hui Hou Fund backstops the significant support Alexander & Baldwin is providing to its 675 former HC&S employees, which includes financial support as well as the services of four full time transition coordinators who provide one-on- one assistance to HC&S workers to guide them through the process of finding new employment, training, or education and gain access to government assistance programs.

“The displaced employees are being provided as strong a start as possible, but as unexpected needs and circumstances arise for these employees, the A Hui Hou Fund will be there to help those in need of a hand up,” said Lee.  “The Matson Foundation grant will help us to extend our reach considerably.”

The A Hui Hou steering committee continues to raise funds by selling commemorative t-shirts, hats, magnets and stickers. These items are currently available at Maui Thing located at 7 N. Market St. Wailuku, or can be ordered by calling (808) 249-0215. To make a contribution to the A Hui Hou Fund, please visit the following link: www.mauiunitedway.org.

Applications for emergency assistance from the A Hui Hou Fund can be found on the Maui United Way website. You must be a displaced HC&S employee to be eligible. For more information, please contact Makana Rosete at (808) 244-8787.

Matson Foundation is the community giving arm of Matson Navigation Company, which has served Hawaii since 1882.

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