Waimea Yoga was established a couple of years ago, but has already become a community resource for health and wellbeing in Waimea. On June 15, Waimea Yoga linked up with HWMO to support our critical work to protect communities and natural resources from wildfire. Several people came to an evening yoga class to heat up their chakras and go through an animated class taught by Julie Martin with all proceeds going to Hawaii Wildfire (and then matched by Waimea Yoga). Special mahalo to Chelsea Morriss, founder of Waimea Yoga, for supporting HWMO and other non-profit organizations as part of the monthly Yoga for a Cause program.
Mauka wildfires impact makai waters. Many people don’t realize that wildfires can have long-lasting impacts that affect our watersheds, drinking water, and coral reefs. After a wildfire, soils are left bare and especially after more intense wildfires, those soils can become hydrophobic or “scared of water.” Rainfall events that frequent our islands can wash away thousands of years of top soil into our waterways, taking along with it trash, debris, chemicals, and other pollutants, eventually smothering our fragile coral reefs.
On September 23, a few HWMO donors from the Firefighter Chili Cook-Off who bid on experiences at the silent auction joined expert marine naturalist Chad Wiggins and HWMO Executive Director and Malama Kai Foundation’s Ocean Warriors program founder, Elizabeth Pickett in Puako. Together, they explored Puako’s diverse and ecologically important tide pool and reef systems. During the tide pool exploration portion, they learned about the plants and animals that live at the intersection of ocean and land while identifying local intertidal organisms. For the reef exploration portion, the attendees learned about coral reefs and the current coastal challenges such as post-fire erosion that threaten them. Of course, we also focused on actions we can take to protect our shorelines, including preventing wildfires!
We, at HWMO, like to help our friends out whenever and wherever we can, even if it means facing some of the toughest bocce ball players on the island. On what started as a beautiful sunny day at Anna’s Ranch and concluded with a downpour of rain for the final games on September 10, Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative held its first ever Bocce Ball Tournament fundraiser. Teams from all over the island battled it out for bocce-rolling glory and an amazing cause to preserve and restore the precious native forests of Waikoloa. Bocce, a lawn-bowling game rooted in similar ball games that date all the way back to the Roman Empire, is a game that everyone can enjoy and participate in. However, there are certainly those who rise above the rest in skill and competitiveness.
HWMO, to support WDFI, put together a team with beginner players from the staff and board: Melissa Kunz, Pablo Beimler, Tom Loomis, and Dave Faucette. After losing in the first game of the double-elimination tournament, HWMO resurged with a victory that came down to inches and could have gone either way. In the third game, however, we were no match for some very skilled players on the opposing team and were thus eliminated. Even though we would have loved to make it further in the tournament, we were quite content with our finish after watching the later rounds and the skill and mastery displayed by the final teams. And, of course, we were happy to support our friends from WDFI and be a part of such a fun event.
If you missed out on the action, you can still support WDFI by visiting: http://waikoloadryforest.org/get-involved/donate
Wildfires have serious impacts on communities and natural resources from summit to sea. HWMO is filling an important niche in Hawaii by bringing together a wide variety of communities and collaborators to reduce wildfire impacts across the State of Hawaii and in the Western Pacific. In order to keep our flame alive, we rely on donations like any other 501(c)3 non-profit organization. That's why on August 26, we held our first major fundraiser: Firefighter Chili Cook-Off for Wildfire Prevention (which also made the front page of West Hawaii Today on August 28!)
The event attracted people from all over the islands (and some from the mainland, as well) -- over 200 people came to taste chili and have a good time. Parker Ranch was gracious enough to provide a beautiful venue, a historic red barn behind the Rodeo Arena, and lend equipment and volunteers. They also showcased their camouflage brush truck, which the kids had a blast exploring.
Five firefighter teams were on hand to dish it out (quite literally) in a chili cooking competition. The teams were as follows:
1) Hawaii Fire Department (HFD) Admin: Chief Ren Victorino and Chief Glen Honda
2) HFD Ladder 14: Christian and Maddy Cook; Kilipaki and Angela Kanae
3) HFD BC2Chili: John and Katy Whitman; Bethany Stimac
4) Big Island Wildfire Coordinating Group (BIWCG): Chief Gantry Andrade and Jack Minassian
5) Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA): Chief Eric Moller; Kimo and Annie Yamanoha; Cory Prough, Hunter Rapoza
Each team cooked their own chili recipes using as many local ingredients as possible. Kahua Ranch, Ponoholo Ranch, and Robby Hind were generous enough to donate meat for the firefighters. With wide grins and flame-filled decorated service stations, the firefighters served the chili to attendees, hoping to win their votes later in the evening. But first, it was up to the legendary chef, Sam Choy, to determine the best chili of the night. The winner? Drum roll...HFD Admin! Their dish won over Sam Choy's taste buds as it was, in his words, the best representation of Hawaiian-style chili (and it was also very delicious). The crowd agreed, too, as they chose the same chili for the People's Choice Award. This is not to say that all of the teams aren't winners in our book -- they all dedicated so much volunteer time to make this event happen and kept our visitors delighted and satiated with their delicious chilis.
We also had delectable dishes donated by various food sponsors: vegetarian chili from Tommy Bahamas, rice and sheet cake from KTA, mac salad from Lilikoi Cafe, and cornbread from Mamane Bakery. Spicy Ninja Sauce donated an array of hot sauces at the condiment bar. Beer was donated by Big Island Brewhaus and Kona Brewery, juice was donated by Hemp2o, and coffee was donated by Waimea Coffee Company.
Throughout the night, serenading live tunes were performed by Donald Goddard and Widdy Loo, and Jonathan Brooke (of the Pau Hana Pickers) and Richard Griffin. During one of the intermissions, HWMO held a special ceremony for all of the new Firewise Communities, three of which showed up in full force that night: Kanehoa, Waikoloa Village, and Honokoa (Waialea and Puako were also honored, but unfortunately, Firewise Committee members were unable to attend). Kohala Waterfront also came out in numbers -- they are on pace to be certified by the end of the year!
Councilman Tim Richards and Senator Lorraine Inouye were also on hand to speak about the importance of wildfire prevention and HWMO's work. We also held a special ceremony for Miles Nakahara who was instrumental in the founding of HWMO and its continued success in the early years.
The event was a smashing success and we were able to raise at least $20,000 to help continue our work to protect communities, lands, and waters from wildfire in Hawaii. Of course, it couldnʻt have happened without everyone who joined us and all who put in so much time and effort into organizing and volunteering. And a big mahalo goes out to all of the sponsors involved. These are all the people, businesses, and organizations that made it happen - mahalo nui loa!:
August 26 is just around the corner. What’s so special about that date? HWMO is having its first major fundraiser that day. Save the date!
The Firefighter Chili Cook-Off will showcase four teams of local firefighters who will go face-to-face in a chili competition judged by none other than Sam Choy, one of the founders of Pacific rim cuisine. There will, however, also be a people’s choice award winner. That’s where you come in! Come join us for a barn-good time by trying the different chili recipes using local ingredients from the island. The event’s very first sponsor was Parker Ranch, a long-time friend of the organization.
Parker Ranch was gracious enough to not only provide a beautiful space for the event, but they also let us have a booth right near the grandstands for the extremely popular 4th of July Rodeo and Horse Races event. HWMO’s team set-up a booth to sell tickets for the event, while also distributing hundreds of invites to visitors. The Chili Cook-Off was also announced several times on the PA for the hundreds of visitors to hear.
We hope you can join us for the Firefighter Chili Cook-Off. Tickets are available now — don’t miss out!
Mahalo nui loa, Parker Ranch!
For over a decade, HWMO has been tasked with the mission of protecting Hawaii's communities and natural resources from the growing threat of wildfire and its impacts throughout the state. We've made immense strides over the past few years towards reaching our goals even as a small non-profit organization with no more than 5 staff members at any given time. We've been fortunate enough to secure grant funds for our projects, however, our operations and outreach capabilities rely on your continual support.
To help keep our engine running, we held a fundraiser and outreach event at Denny's Restaurant in Kona on Sunday, April 19th. We teamed with Rotary Club of Kona and Denny's to host Project Compassion, a program that holds monthly events that raise awareness for many Hawaii-based non-profits and thousands of dollars to support their programs.
Our event attracted local residents and visitors who were drawn-in by Hawaii Fire Department fire engine tours and a Goat Dozer Petting Zoo outside of the restaurant. Throughout the evening, people filtered through the doorways of Denny's to dine. Each person who dined contributed to our fundraiser. We collected 20% of the dinner profits and 100% of the tips that night, all going towards our wildfire safety efforts. The catch? We had to earn our money. HWMO staff and Board members donned aprons and put on a smile to help host and serve customers, talking wildfire prevention whenever possible. Customers were also treated to hours of live music entertainment put on by a local HFD firefighter and our very own, Tom Loomis (harmonica virtuoso.)
Before customers entered or left the restaurant, they had the opportunity to stop by our informational booth where we passed out Ready, Set, Go! programs and gave out Kaleo the Pueo hats and T-shirts to generous donors. We even held a silent auction that featured some great items: Red Water Café dinner certificate for two, KTA certificates, Leche de Tigre merchandise and concert tickets, Snorkel Bob's merchandise, and beautiful coral reef artwork from Waikoloa native Rick Turnbow.
In total, we made $2,500 in donations thanks to generous customers, silent auction bidders, and our incredible sponsors: Adventure X Boat Tours, Laughing Stock Farms, Red Water Café, and Snorkel Bob's. Thanks also to our silent auction contributors: Red Water Café, KTA, Snorkel Bob's, Leche De Tigre, and Rick Turnbow.
A big mahalo also goes out to Hawaii Fire Department, Big Island Goat Dozers, Rotary Club of Kona, Project Compassion's Holly DeGeal, Denny's Restaurant and our hard-working staff and Board members who helped make the night a success!
If you missed out on the event, but would still like to contribute, please visit: