Maui Business

Amazon Founder Makes Donation to Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui

August 30, 2021, 5:20 AM HST
* Updated August 31, 12:52 PM
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Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui.

Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui received a personal donation from Amazon founder and Executive Chair, Jeff Bezos. The amount wasn’t disclosed.

Paul Tonnessen Executive Director of the Friends said, “We are honored and grateful… This donation comes at a crucial point for us due the overwhelming increase in requests for services that we have received during the COVID pandemic, as well as broader needs we have seen in the community.”

According to Sheila Haynes, President of the Friends, “This generous gift will enable us to increase the impact of our mission by closing gaps in the fundamental services required to meet the needs of abused and neglected children in Maui County. Our overarching aim is to begin the critical healing process for the children we serve. We do this in collaboration with over 40 service providers and professionals working in the field of child abuse and neglect. Mahalo to Jeff Bezos for making such a significant difference in the lives of the keiki of Maui County.”

Friends of the Children’s Justice Center has served Maui County for over 30 years, playing a vital role in the healing process for thousands of children. Their mission is to provide assistance to abused and neglected children, to promote prevention of child abuse and neglect, and to support the Children’s Justice Center of Maui.

The organization provides assistance by receiving requests from over 40 social services agencies and other professionals for services or items that will help with the healing of the child. These services include education, tutoring, counseling, medical, transportation, social activities, sports activities, after-school programs, school needs and everything in between.

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The Friends promotes prevention of child abuse and neglect by producing and distributing DVD’s on “Mandated Reporting” and “Shaken Baby Syndrome,” and participating in several community-wide forums such as “Keiki Fest.”

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In addition, the Friends distributes two newsletters annually and participates in a wide range of preventative efforts in collaboration with the PREVENT Institute, the Ho’oikaika Partners prevention committee, the Hānai Coalition for foster children, the Hawaiʻi Children’s Trust Fund Prevention Campaign and many others.

The Friends also provides support to the Children’s Justice Center (CJC) of Maui, which is part of the State Judiciary. The CJC is a safe and nurturing facility where suspected victims of child sexual abuse and extreme physical abuse are brought for an interview and possible forensic examination. In addition, the Friends provides training for multiple state, county and non-profit agencies.

No matter what the need is, the Friends always aims to meet the needs of abused and neglected children in the community. This is done with no federal, state or county funds. Organizers say the personal gift from Bezos will enable the Friends to significantly increase the impact of its mission and help the children it serves.

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