Maui News

Three nonprofits serving Maui families to be honored at Champions for Children awards

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Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui will be recognized as an honorable mention for the advocate award at this year’s Champions for Children ceremony hosted by the Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network. Photo Courtesy: FCJC of Maui

Each year, Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network presents its Champions for Children awards to community leaders whose exceptional service and dedication is making a significant difference for keiki and families.

This year, three nonprofits serving Maui families will be honored:

  • Maui Family Support Services won the Family-Friendly Employer Award. The organizations has provided more than 40 years of continuous service to children and families.
  • Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui is an honorable mention for the Advocate Award. The organization promotes community awareness of child abuse and or neglect; supports the Children’s Justice Center; and provides much needed services to help these children recover from the damaging effects of their abuse. 
  • Project Hawaiʻi is an honorable mention for the Unsung Hero Award. The organization has more than 200 volunteers across three islands who provide year round support to more than 1,600 homeless children.

The awards ceremony and fundraiser will be held April 6 at the Royal Hawaiian on Oʻahu. Tickets are still available until March 25, and the public is invited to join the celebration. To purchase tickets, read the honoree bios and get more details about the event, visit


“We’re so inspired by this year’s Champions for Children and their work to improve the lives of keiki across the state,” said Deborah Zysman, executive director of Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network. “This year’s honorees demonstrate how our community continues to come together to ensure all children are healthy, safe and thriving.”

This year, there are four award winners and 13 honorable mentions, listed below, who were selected from dozens of public submissions by a panel of community judges. 

2022 Champions for Children honorees


Advocate Award:

  • Winner – Brennan Yamaguchi
  • Honorable mentions – Makani and Brianna Kema-Kaleiwahea; Sarah “Mili” Milianta-Laffin; Ian Ross; Paul Tonnessen; and Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui

Family-Friendly Employer Award:

  • Winner – Maui Family Support Services
  • Honorable mention – AHL

Unsung Hero Award:

  • Winner – Nā Pua Noʻeau, UH Mānoa
  • Honorable mentions – Valerie Aguirre; Kasey Kawaguchi; Irene Papaconstadopoulos, MD; Julie Smith; Project Hawaiʻi, Inc.; and YWCA of Hawaiʻi Island Developmental Preschool

Innovator Award:

  • Winner – Maʻi Movement Hawaiʻi
  • Honorable mentions – Joann Farnsworth and Sharlene Wong

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