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Mainland Company Helps Lahaina Community While on Vacation

Nikki Schenfeld · June 18, 2017, 10:53 AM HST (Updated June 19, 2017, 2:03 PM) · 20 Comments
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VMware, a software company based in Palo Alto, CA, came to Maui with nearly 900 of it’s top employees from around the world and donated their time to the Lahaina community on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.

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    VMware employees in Lahaina. Photo Courtesy

    One VMware group setting pavers or in various areas where grass cannot grow at King Kamehameha III elementary. PC: Nikki Schenfeld

    VMware employees working on Mo’olele. PC: Nikki Schenfeld

    VMware employees working on Mo’olele. PC: Nikki Schenfeld

    VMware employees working on Mo’olele. PC: Nikki Schenfeld

    VMware employees painting buildings at King Kamehameha III elementary school. PC: Nikki Schenfeld

    VMware completely gutted, cleaned and replanted soil for the upcoming school year in the garden at King Kamehameha III elementary school. PC: Nikki Schenfeld

    VMware completely gutted, cleaned and replanted soil for the upcoming school year in the garden at King Kamehameha III elementary school. PC: Nikki Schenfeld

    VMware did a restoration of Hale Mua and planted medicinal plants. PC: Nikki Schenfeld

    While VMWare and its employees are staying on Maui, they wanted to contribute to the community and people of Maui by participating in a Service Learning Event. The company believes that big things have small beginnings and want to do their part to give back while they are here and hope to inspire others to do the same. The company split up into four different groups at various locations throughout Lahaina.

    At Hui O Wa’a Kaulua, 190 employees were restoring Hale Mua by planting medicinal plants and removing existing banana trees and replacing it with other native plants. The top 60 VMware winners could be found restoring Mo’olele, a Maori Canoe and Hawaiian Wooden Canoe, and the company also donated solar panels and a computer system on Mo’okiha a Pi’ilani.

    Over at King Kamehameha III Elementary School, 210 participants helped paint three portable buildings, replanted soil to the existing garden, cleaned and painted three decks, donated books and assembled 50 “welcome back to school” kits.

    Seventy-five employees were at Na’aikane O Maui Inc. painting the main hall, kitchen and restrooms, landscaping the front of the building and installing LED safety lights.

    At Lahainaluna High School, 320 employees installed air conditioners to nine classrooms, cleaned and repaired gutters, landscaped the garden area, painted three buildings, tables, benches, and railings.

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    VMware says they bring their top performers to Hawai‘i every two years and each time they are here, they do one of these give back projects. Two years ago, they overhauled the Boys & Girls Club in Līhue. Edward Perotti, Senior Director of Global meetings, events and travel at VMware said, “The Boys and Girls Club in Līhue – it needed everything, from the walls down to the books – there was such a spirit there that it was so obvious. We asked them ‘What’s your wishlist?’ and it was your typical ‘We’d like this painted and a garden,’ and I said ‘No what’s your actual wishlist that you want to give to your group and your committee?’ Then it was this big list and we turned around and looked at them and said ‘done.’ So it was building them a new clubhouse, it was literally to make sure these children had a place to go when they weren’t going to be able to go home with mom and dad and the group got so into it.”

    Perotti also said about their experience on Kaua‘i, “I’ve never seen so many employees at the end of a day with the students, there were tears, it was probably one of the most amazing moments I’ve had, and now we’re here. There’s so much that needs to be done here with the children and with the education and trying to get the children to re-invest themselves back in the island and not leave, it’s part of the sustainability, it’s not just green it’s about your people and your culture and if we can do it and hopefully shame the other companies that come to the islands for the same thing to pick up where we left off.”

    Solar panels and computers donated by VMWare were installed aboard Mo‘okiha o Pi‘ilani (Maui’s new open ocean sailing canoe) that will enable livestream contact and education worldwide as it sails to O‘ahu to greet Hōkūle‘a on its monumental voyage circumnavigating the globe.

    The group also has assisted schools on the Big Island but Maui is a different experience for the group. “So many people come to Maui for vacation, people drive down the road and look right, if they look left they would see everything else, but nobody looks left. To me, this whole day was about looking left and working with MC&A and Clifford (Cultural Advisor at The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua) and all these ideas came flooding in and it’s all these little projects that I’m trying to think, ‘how can I tie this into a bigger story’ and it’s kind of funny how it all just story lined back to the kids. So it kind of became a really simple, ‘there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be doing this,” Perotti said.

    “I’m kind of hoping we’re going to shame the other companies that come to Maui and basically shame them that they should be doing where we stopped. It’s not as simple as writing a check, it’s about affecting some change and if we start it and we can make everyone feel the need to step in, then even better. It’s barely a day and they’re still outside, they’re still in paradise,” Perotti concluded.

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