SJCPF’s Commitment to Maui: Hope Where It’s Needed Most
The St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund (SJCPF), the grantmaking foundation of Providence, has been monitoring the Hawaii fires since their outbreak. To aid in the response, SJCPF is making two (2) immediate grants for Maui wildfire relief to local organizations to center community experience and expertise.
SJCPF commits a $100,000 grant to the Maui Strong Fund administered by the Hawai’i Community Foundation (HCF). The Maui Strong Fund provides financial resources deployed quickly, focusing on rapid response and recovery. Most recently, their rapid response has been dedicated to the devastating wildfires on Maui. HCF collaborates with state and county leaders, nonprofit organizations, and community members to understand the quickly evolving priorities. Funding will support evolving needs, including shelter, food, financial assistance, and other services identified by our partners doing critical work on Maui.
Additionally, SJCPF commits a $50,000 grant to Catholic Charities Hawai’i for their Maui Relief Fund. Catholic Charities Hawai’i has served Hawai’i since 1947, providing a wide range of social services with dignity, compassion, social justice, and a commitment to excellence. Through programs and advocacy efforts, Catholic Charities Hawai’i serves all people, especially those with the greatest need, regardless of their faith or culture. They are working with partners to assess the most critical needs of Maui residents, including temporary housing, financial assistance, everyday essentials, and counseling.
Working with an equity lens, SJCPF will work with these grantmaking partners and local organizations to ensure that the Maui wildfire relief resources are targeted at those most in need, especially low-income families, women, children, immigrants, and Indigenous community members affected by the fires and their aftermath. As is the practice of SJCPF, staff will continue to monitor and engage partners to understand the long-term recovery needs of the community.
Information on the Wildfires
Several wildfires took their toll in Hawai’i the week of August 6, 2023. The fires were fueled by drought exacerbated by climate change and Hurricane Dora, which passed offshore but brought fierce winds to Maui and Big Island.
The fires took an extreme toll on Maui, destroying the town of Lahaina on west Maui and killing at least ninety-nine people (August 15, 2023). It is the deadliest U.S. wildfire for over a century, and the death toll is expected to rise. Of the approximately 2,200 damaged or destroyed structures, 86% were residential, leaving thousands of people without homes.
Lahaina, a town of 12,000, was once the capital of the former Hawaiian Kingdom. The fires damaged several cultural landmarks, including the historic Waiola Church and its famed 150-year-old banyan tree.
While the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said it was premature to assign an approximate dollar amount to the damage, Hawai’i Governor Josh Green estimated the losses approach $6 billion. “It is going to take many years to rebuild Lahaina. When you see the full extent of the destruction of Lahaina, it will shock you,” Green said last week.
The devastation has displaced thousands of people, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell estimated. And four days after the fires, 1,418 people were at emergency evacuation shelters. President Biden approved Hawai’i’s disaster declaration. The declaration (DR-4724) includes Individual Assistance for Maui County, Public Assistance A & B for Maui County, and Public Assistance B for Hawaii County.
SJCPF will continue monitoring the situation in Maui and communicate with Hawai’i Community Foundation and Catholic Charities Hawai’i to assess long-term and ongoing needs.