Our Islands, Our Future
Celebrating Judge Bowers

Celebrating Judge Bowers

Black History Month honors the achievements, triumphs, and contributions of African- Americans to U.S. history and culture. As we recognize and reflect on influential voices, past and present, and also enter Women in History month in March, Maui Economic Development Board celebrates Maui resident Judge Bevanne J. Bowers. Appointed Per Diem Judge in the District and Family Courts of Hawaii’s Second Judicial District on December 20, 2021, Bowers became the first African-American female appointed judge in Maui County. She is also a member of the Maui County Bar Association, the African American Law Association of Hawaii, Maui County Nonprofit Association, and much more.

Additionally, Bowers was appointed Executive Director of Maui Mediation Services in May 2015. Formed in 1982, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization provides alternative dispute resolution, facilitation, and training to residents of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. The nonprofit was selected as Maui United Way’s Partner Agency of the Year for 2019-20. Upon moving to Maui from Tennessee in 2011 to start her own law practice, Bowers took the basic mediation training and became a volunteer to help serve the community. “It’s the best decision I ever made,” she explained. “Mediation is a voluntary process that offers an effective and inexpensive way to resolve a dispute quickly and provides an alternative to court proceedings.”

Bower’s dedication to helping others was honored in 2020 with a distinguished O’o Award as Maui County’s Outstanding Nonprofit Executive Director. “Our mediators are all professionally trained volunteers who have undergone extensive training, “she said. “We provide creative ways of resolving all types of disputes, from family matters and landlord/tenant conflicts to consumer/merchant and employment issues. We help people find their own best solutions, and also teach conflict resolution skills in our Youth Program for ages 8-18.”

Bowers added, “Everyone should take this training! Even if you don’t want to become a mediator, these important skills can be used in any context, anytime, in all types of situations. It’s an opportunity to make a difference. My judgeship is a privilege I don’t take lightly. My joy has always come from helping others. There’s no greater gift you can give than to be of service.” 

Never give up! You can accomplish what you set out to do if only you believe in yourself. Judge Bevanne Bowers, Per Diem Judge, District and Family Courts of Hawaii’s Second Judicial District

Aloha Quilts For Wildfire Survivors

Aloha Quilts For Wildfire Survivors

The Maui Quilt Shop on Central Avenue in Wailuku is packed full of fabrics, quilt patterns, and quilt kits with a contemporary Hawaiian style, besides patterns and kits for basic quilting. In this distinctive Maui store, a haven for any quilter and fabric lover, a remarkable humanitarian gesture occurred. Owner Marilyn Sameshima shared, “I am astounded by the generous and beautiful quilt donations that came to the Maui Quilt Shop’s Aloha Quilt Donation Drive for those affected by the Lahaina and Upcountry fires. The Maui Quilt Shop received approximately 5,650 quilts from Hawaii and around the world! To date we have distributed over 5,000. The fire recipients are very appreciative and touched by the quilts. They will always hold this expression of caring dear to their hearts. My incredible staff and volunteers assisted in the effort and their continued support and endless hours of work contributed to the success of the mission.”

In addition to the quilts, people donated blankets, pillowcases, and other items made by quilters and guilds from across the country, Canada and worldwide, to distribute to survivors in Lahaina and Kula. “Survivors continue to visit us to pick up these treasures given to them by generous people in their time of need,” Sameshima noted. “We send our thanks to those who kept Maui in mind. We hope the entire community will continue to remember our survivors and donate to other recognized groups such as the Maui Food Bank, Maui Strong Fund, and Maui United Way.”

Sameshima knows how much time, effort, expense and tender loving care goes into making quilts. She continues to be awed by the worldwide response of donations. “These handmade quilts were made with loving hands,” she added. “The donated quilts have been, and continue to be, appreciated by the survivors of this horrible fire. They have also been received by first responders, firefighters, and their families. Many of them also lost their homes and loved ones. Using a grass-roots network to get the word out that quilts are available, we were able to make sure they found caring homes.”

Mahalo to all who contributed to our Aloha Quilts Donation Drive. Thank you for caring about Maui! Marilyn Sameshima, Owner, Maui Quilt Shop

Horses Heal Hearts

Horses Heal Hearts

The Spirit Horse Ranch (TSHR) Inc., a 501(c)(3) Maui nonprofit, helps adolescent and other survivors of abuse and trauma through the healing energy of equine-assisted learning, organic gardening, creative expression, and the healing energy of the Haleakala setting. Operated by the Deponte family, TSHR began in 2021 on Triple L Ranch. It is one of the few remaining Paniolo cattle ranches on Maui with 132 acres of lush land on the mountain slopes. The program is fueled by a certified and dedicated team, with facilities and curriculum to ensure a safe environment. It also serves as a sanctuary for the retired Triple L Ranch horses to love and be loved. 

“A growing body of evidence suggests that the unique human-horse connection improves the physical and mental health of both species,” said Paige Deponte, TSHR Founder and Executive Director. “As the horse and person bond, a healthy connection via self-awareness grows, resulting in emotional healing. Our programs are centered on the concept that by building a working relationship with a horse, any participant can develop important skills that can translate to all aspects of their daily lives.”

The TSHR team and Trauma Informed Care Facility are available to survivors of abuse, grief and trauma in the Maui community. The work fosters healing, resilience and emotional well-being to all those who have endured painful experiences, including the hardship from the Maui wildfires. The ranch has extended the scope of their program to encompass all age groups, free of charge, with a special day dedicated to first responders and those caring for the welfare of others. Through their different initiatives, TSHR addresses distress in a holistic manner, integrating both emotional and physiological aspects of healing.

“To date, we have provided 533 sessions to the community since the wildfires, and will continue to be here for anyone who needs help,” Deponte added. “We have seen the unique reciprocal bond between the two species continue to thrive, grow and surprise. To help rebuild our community’s resilience, we invite our Maui ‘ohana to come and learn effective coping tools here at our ranch.” For more info email: or call 808-280-7070.

TSHR Equine Therapy Program for children 11-17 is open to all agencies and schools, beginning January 2024. Paige DePonte Founder & Executive Director The Spirit Horse Ranch

Kung Hee Fat Choy & Happy New Year!

Kung Hee Fat Choy & Happy New Year!

Dr. Busaba Yip, cultural director and docent of the Wo Hing Museum, Society Hall and Cookhouse is slowly recovering from the August 8th wildfires. Losing everything—home, business, personal possessions—she could only weep the first few days. Yet, while the Lahaina fire destroyed all the Wo Hing buildings, it did not destroy Yip’s commitment to keep hope alive, to rebuild and restore.

In years past, Chinese New Year (CNY) was celebrated at Wo Hing with lion dances, Chinese artifacts and music, tea celebrations, and numerous fun activities. “While grieving Lahaina’s losses, we can still celebrate new beginnings at the various CNY events on Maui,” said Yip. “February 10th begins the year of the Wood Dragon. That day we will have a CNY offering and display table with Chinese artifacts at the Upcountry Farmers Market from 8am-11am. Plus, Kwock Hing Temple in Kula will have a CNY celebration February 25th at 11am.” 

The date for CNY is determined by the lunar calendar. Each year, the date falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. The ancient Chinese calendar is based on the 12-year cycle of the animal zodiac. This tradition recounts 12 mythical animals descending from heaven to usher in spring and a new harvest, with each year assigned to one of the twelve animals. Each year, CNY is also associated with one of the five elements: earth, wood, fire, metal, and water. In 2024, wood and dragon take center stage, making it the Year of the Wood Dragon. The dragon, a mythical and powerful animal, brings hope for growth, and renewal.

Yip added, “Inspiring imagination and leadership, the Year of the Wood Dragon is a time to celebrate with family, friends, fireworks, and lanterns. A tray of sweetmeats called Chuen-hop (togetherness) is also shared. It is a time to reflect on our lives over the past year, to plan for the future, and to try to recreate what Wo Hing used to be. Right now, though, my wish for the community is to be safe, and to have a healthy and happy New Year as we rebuild our West Side and island community together.”

The most common greetings heard are Kung Hee Fat Choy, May Wealth and Prosperity Be Yours, and Sen Nien Fai Lok, Happy New Year! Dr. Busaba Yip Cultural Director & Docent Wo Hing Museum, Society Hall and Cookhouse

Julia Allisson’s Wonderland

Julia Allisson’s Wonderland

Julia Allisson Cost is from a family of well-known artists. Her father, Curtis Wilson Cost, is one of the most acclaimed artists on Maui and her mom, Jill, is a multi-talented sewist, fabric and fashion designer and business manager. Julia, with a double BA in Studio Art and Dance from Scripps College and an MFA in Dance from the University of California, Irvine, is a painter, textile designer, sewist, author, illustrator, and dancer. Inspired by her upcountry surroundings, she captures the world on canvas through painting and transforms her paintings into textile designs. Those designs have become the raw material for her clients who sew artistically.

“I’m just an island kid, born, raised and based on Maui,” Julia said. “My dad is a realistic landscape painter and has the longest running one-man gallery in the state of Hawaii, the Curtis Wilson Cost Gallery. He’s been archiving rural Hawaii as it looked before modern development through his oil paintings since 1973. My mom had her own one-woman batik and sewing business called Kulia Batiks. The love my parents showed me through the world of art flows into my relationships with my clients. That people love my fabrics enough to sew incredible garments with them is quite an honor.”

Most recently, Julia released her first picture book, The Girl And The Boat, which tells a story of friendship through 30 richly detailed oil paintings that invite you to explore countless details and interpret the story for yourself. It is about a little girl who lives high on a mountain overlooking the sea. One day, she finds a toy boat in a field of wildflowers and carries it home, washes it, sews it a new sail, and then goes on a series of adventures with it.

Julia added, “I painted every page of this book with the goal that each scene would stand alone as a work of art. I created the props and sewed the quilts and costumes so that I could paint everything from life and achieve a level of rich detail and realism. The story ignites imagination while beckoning to explore the paintings again and again.” For more info visit:

Living in so much beauty upcountry inspires my work. Julia Allisson Cost, Artist, Author, Dancer

Coffee With A Cop

Coffee With A Cop

In December, a Coffee with a Cop event was held at the Dairy Road Starbucks. Police officers in green Starbucks aprons surprised customers with free coffee and conversation. “Coffee with a Cop brings officers and the community members they serve together,” said Jun Hattori, Traffic Division officer. “Over coffee we get to discuss issues people may have and we’re able to learn more about each other.”

In 2016, the first Coffee with a Cop Day took place. The Hawthorne Police Department in Hawthorne, California initially launched the idea to seek new ways to interact with their community more successfully. As a result, Coffee with a Cop is currently nationwide.

On Maui, Coffee with a Cop hopes to break down barriers between police officers and citizens by allowing opportunities to ask questions and voice concerns. Taking time to meet at neutral island locations enables candid discussions about current concerns. “In a casual atmosphere, it is easier for people to share what’s on their mind,” said Sean Marzoeki, an upcountry community police officer. “Surprisingly, in a short time, citizens and police officers get to know each other and discover mutual goals for the communities they live in and serve.”

Helping to build trust and foster a sense of community, officers have embraced the event as a way to connect with residents they may never meet otherwise. “We are constantly told stories about positive connections and interactions at Coffee with a Cop events,” said Marzoeki. “It’s great to talk story and be asked questions we can answer. Most people don’t know how to approach an officer. Like today at Starbucks, we just put on the green apron, worked behind the counter, and even got to also talk story with the people in the drive thru.”

The Maui Police Department officers are looking forward to more meetings in the new year. Coffee with a Cop is sure to create a valuable connection in our communities. When officers hear their community’s needs from the people themselves, they’re better able to support them and to see officers as their ally in protecting families and neighbors.

There are a lot of things to talk about over coffee these days. I’m very happy about this effort to show what community policing looks like. Sean Marzoeki, Upcountry Community Police Officer

Bringing in the New Year

Bringing in the New Year

January’s namesake, Janus – Roman god of beginnings, had two faces that allowed him to look back into the past and forward into the future. With the New Year upon us, it is time to look back and reflect on a year dominated by heartache, tragedy and loss on Maui, and to look forward with optimism and hope to a brighter 2024 – looking forward to resolution with a different take on the typical new year’s resolution. 

Resolution, according to Merriam Webster, can mean something decided upon, or firmness of purpose. It can also mean the act of solving and the solution to a problem. Who is not looking towards resolution of the challenges and problems faced in 2023 – a return of normalcy and prosperity, especially for those who suffered loss and dislocation on the island’s West Side and Upcountry; and a resolution of the unrest and divide existing in the nation and the world today. We can hope and we can resolve to do our part to work together to a happy new year.

Happy New Year is commonly expressed throughout the world literally wishing the new year to be happy. This is translated to “Hau‘oli Makahiki Hou” in Hawaiian, makahiki meaning year. The Makahiki season (around October through February) was celebrated in Hawaii for centuries as a peaceful time to enjoy harvest, feasts, religious ceremonies, and relaxation. The Mahahiki season also defined the transitional time between harvest and new planting —the new (agricultural) year.

The New Year brings a time to plant new metaphorical seeds. The seeds we sow today and in the coming months will determine what we reap in the future. Our actions, our thoughts, our behaviors are our seeds, and the fruits of our actions might not occur overnight but need to be nurtured and encouraged.

From our ‘ohana to yours, Maui Economic Development Board wishes you “Hau’oli Makahiki Hou.”  May 2024 bring strength and renewal.

May 2024 bring strength and renewal. “Hau’oli Makahiki Hou.”

Maui Santa Brings Joy And Singing

Christmas, celebrated in numerous ways all over the world, is a joyful time. While many people on Maui have endured grief and suffering caused by the devastation of the August 7 wildfires, the Christmas season brings hope and faith for a better future. Maui resident Cameron Keys is a firm believer that Santa and music can spread joy during the holiday season. For the past 25-years, Keys has been a popular and beloved Santa on Maui. Also, 25 years ago, he founded and currently directs the Maui Madrigals, a costumed a-capella singing group that performs throughout the island at different venues.

A madrigal is a Renaissance-style vocal music setting of poetry. Each voice sings a different melody and reflects the emotions in the lyrics. Madrigals also focus on telling a story, providing an engaging performance that Renaissance musicians and audiences love. “The individual singers must blend their parts with the other singers’ parts to complete the whole fabric of the music,” Keys explained. “This one-on-one unaccompanied singing is both fun and challenging. It is also a very intimate kind of performing, requiring subtle communication among the singers to establish tempo, dynamics, starting and stopping, and creating an emotional sense in the music.”

“When I decided to form Maui Madrigals, I had no idea the group would become so popular,” Keys noted. “People love Renaissance music! We dress up and look like Christmas packages. What’s most fun is that entertainment and audience participation are a vital part of each concert. When everyone leaves with a smile on their face, we know our work was well done.” 

Likewise, Santa Keys loves Christmas. He has brought festive holiday cheer all through the years to both locals and visitors around the island. Plus, he has been Santa Paws at the Maui Humane Society. “Making people happy through music, or being Santa for people and pets, is what it’s all about,” he added. “There is nothing greater than seeing the children’s faces light up when they know they are talking to the real Santa.” (Is Keys the Real Santa? See him Saturday, December 23rd, at Maui Mall to find out!)

There is no better way to celebrate the holidays than giving joy. We can all make a difference! MERRY CHRISTMAS! Cameron Keys, Maui Madrigals founder & a Maui Santa

A Time To Heal

A Time To Heal

During a Day of Healing Workshop in Upcountry Maui, sponsored by The Rotary Club of Maui, Dr. Bridget Bongaard set out to help those who are experiencing grief and PTSD because of the Maui wildfires, or any kind of trauma. Bongaard, a board-certified internal medicine physician, as well as a hospice-certified medical director, has used her knowledge to set up numerous integrative medicine programs and retreats over the years. In addition, with the Pacific Cancer Foundation, Bongaard co-founded the first annual Maui Cancer Wellness retreat. 

“The goal of trauma healing is to give participants a feeling that they have control over their lives again,” Bongaard explained. “My approach to wellness is a three-dimensional process: physical, emotional and spiritual. We work step-by-step to achieve the different stages of understanding how our brains and bodies work when life’s events happen. Then, we discuss the emotional impact that we carry with the memory, and how to move beyond this and fill the gaps in our lives.”

Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Bongaard led the group to fully understand what their loss meant to them individually and how to move beyond it. A session on resilience despite all odds, taught the group how to create peace and purpose in an uncertain world and how to find new solutions for problems. To help overcome grief and trauma, Dr. Bongaard also discussed the five stages of the Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle.

Bongaard added, “While learning through these different modalities, participants also had the opportunity to take time for themselves, interact with others, tell their stories, and enjoy nutritious food. Plus, it’s wonderful to make new friends and build community.”

Many people affected by wildfires or other traumatic events need time and space away from their normal duties and routines to be able to focus on themselves and gain insight. Workshop participant Katy Shroder, a clinical psychologist from Lahaina, who lost her home, possessions, and place of worship, shared, “Since the fires I have been helping others with their trauma and healing. This workshop was the first occasion I took time to heal myself. I truly appreciate the opportunity.”

Everyone has experienced pain or loss in his or her life at some time. Our healing workshop offers the courage to overcome trauma and fears and live a peaceful life.” For info about the next workshop call 808-866-6155, or email Dr. Bridget Bongaard, Founder, Maui Cancer Resource