Maui United Way effort begins to fulfill requests from Maui wildfire survivors

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PC: Maui United Way

Maui United Way’s Emergency Financial Assistance program has received more than 7,000 unique individual requests for financial help. The program offered a one-time $1,000 financial assistance payment, not to exceed $5,000 per household, for adult fire survivors living in the impacted fire zones in Lahaina and Kula. It was made possible by the many generous donations from local kamaʻāina, mainland friends, and people from around the world.  

The first round of payment notifications was issued on the evening of Aug. 29 and will continue over the next 7-10 days. 

“We know that every day matters to these folks, but we must conduct due diligence to ensure the funds are going to those living in the fire impact zones. We are working as fast as we can,” said Maui United Way President Nicholas Winfrey.

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Maui United Way accepted applications for more than 10 days via their website; through in-person outreach events in Lahaina where staff helped individuals fill out the request form in-person, and over the phone via 211. As a result, the number of applications received is comparable to population data.  

“Because of our ability to reach so many people in the affected burn area, we have closed the application so that we can now focus on expanding the ways that we are providing needed relief to impacted individuals and communities,” according to organization leaders.

“The coconut wireless really did its job here. As money has come in, it has been allocated to survivor relief and helping our nonprofit partners in the fire-affected areas,” said Winfrey. 

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Maui United Way encourages residents who need assistance to call the 211 Information and Referral Helpline. Operating seven days a week between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m, the Aloha United Way 211 line connects fire-impacted residents with a live and local Community Resource Specialist who can refer them to essential services and information.  

“This program was made possible through incredible support from Aloha United Way.  We are grateful to those who spent long hours getting this program launched, requests vetted, and helping to staff the 211 lines,” Winfrey said.  

Beyond direct financial assistance, Maui United Way has approved 18 grants to nonprofit partners offering direct relief to impacted families including:

  • Locally grown food provided by Maui’s farmers
  • Transportation for those who have had their vehicles destroyed
  • Mortgage and insurance assistance
  • Help replacing identification lost in the fires
  • Crisis counseling
  • Childcare services and health care, including from Native Hawaiian practitioners
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Maui United Way has other plans in the works for providing relief to fire-impacted communities.  “We know the road is a long one and we want to light the way as much as we can.  We have to do more,” said Winfrey. 

How the Process Works and What to Expect

  • Applications are processed in the order received. We are processing applications as quickly as possible while ensuring we undergo a thorough vetting process.
  • Approved applicants will receive an email from a digital payment company called Tremendous. Payment options and information will be collected by Tremendous on their secure website. 
  • Once you submit your payment option to Tremendous, please allow 1–3 days until the payment is received, depending on what option you select.  A direct payment to your bank, for example, is subject to your bank’s processing time.  
  • Individuals requesting a physical payment card can expect to receive the link from Tremendous with instructions on how to pick up their physical payment card within 10–14 days of submitting their request.  
  • Aid is limited to a maximum of five requests per household for those with multiple adults living at the same address.  
  • The first phase of Maui United Way’s fire response has now ended. Based on feedback from survivors, Maui United Way is working on our second phase of support for those affected by the fires. This will be announced soon. 
  • For general information about Maui United Way, how you can help or future programming, please email at [email protected].  For questions about a pending application for emergency financial assistance please email [email protected].  There are also 211 Community Resource Specialists standing by to help with additional resources.
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