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Willow - Advocating for Lahaina

Willow is a 17-year-old girl who has not personally experienced homelessness but wants to talk on behalf of those who have lost their homes due to the fires in Lahaina, Maui. She feels as though the information people are receiving is being "cherry-picked" and wants to share a more personal perspective. Although Willow is not a native Hawaiian, she was born and raised in Maui with her three older brothers. She shared: "When you grow up in a place like that, it burns into you. [Hawaiian culture] is deeply rooted in me. Everyone on Maui is connected. Growing up in a tight-knit community is really special to me. You know that you can walk up to a stranger, ask them for help, and they will help you."

As of the date of our interview, 2700+ structures had been completely burnt to the ground. 86% of those are residential, causing hundreds of families to become homeless. "It's almost a 50:50 ratio of people with homes and without homes." And, a majority of the lives lost were children. Unfortunately, families have had a very difficult time receiving donations. Donations are either stolen or certain people are restricted from receiving donations by the government due to a lack of insurance or not being signed up with specific organizations. Willow shared: "If the roads were open [to others on the island], everyone would go in, everyone would help, and I know this. Everyone on the island is so connected, we all have like a telekinetic form."

Willow stated: "Right now, I think the best that people can do is donate gas, clothes, appliances - long-term donations." She also said that it is incredibly important for those interested in helping to do as much research as possible to make sure that their donations are going to the right places. She was kind enough to share many valid resources (linked below) so that readers can promptly help those in Maui.

From Willow:

The safest place for drop-offs where looters won't steal donations: Kahana Boat Ramp

California donation sites: Updated list on Instagram

Help Upcountry residents:

Donate to Project WHY today so that we can continue to interview these amazing people! Project WHY is a 501(c)(3) non-profit public benefit corporation registered with the State of California & the United States government. 100% of your tax-deductible donation goes to supporting individuals experiencing homelessness! :)

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