The Landing Spot: Finding the Pante and Mamao Family A Place to Settle
The hardest thing about devoting my time to our newly founded corporation Boots On The Ground Maui is reading the screen on my laptop through my misty eyes and aching soul. Trudging the path of doing what I can to help those affected by the fire, is a constant dance. One that just like many of us on the Island I do without any hesitation. My time flows between work, family life, loved ones and of course the daily needs of our community which in a matter of hours- mushroomed into a cloud of smoke and fire. Forever changed, yet eternally stronger because of it.
One minute there is a sense of purposefulness that gives energy to the very early mornings and late nights working. The next moment there is the feeling of overwhelming grief that swells from deep within and only escapes by way of slow long tears that fall for everyone and what they are experiencing. Prayer, compassion and a lot of funds and volunteer work is what we need right now.
Dana Pante and Saimone Mamao, along with their two children Lotu and Kalina are one of the many families that I have had the blessing of being able to assist in transitioning. Funds donated by our friends, clients and vendors allow us to assist these types of families in a variety of ways and give them a brief landing spot while they start the long slow process of recovery. BOGM moved them from a crowded living room to a spacious temporary living space in Kahana, Maui. Once a flourishing vacation rental, Owners Jason Lien and Daisy Lieu made the easy decision to open up their unit and donate to someone that needs housing. Currently they are staying in the unit rent free, and while it is temporary-the air conditioned unit with a pool and all the furnishings needed is giving them just a minute to start the long process of finding what the next step may be.
Dana and Saimone reached out to me Tuesday August 15, 2023. I received a message via text with a family photo as I have requested in my posts seeking families that need help. The image helps me remember who they are as within the first week after the fire I was loaded with hundreds of messages from various displaced folks from the community. Especially as some of them I don’t know and don’t get a chance to meet until after I have coordinated placing them and they get settled in. In the midst of coordinating supply runs to the west side, shopping with families that we met online via Facebook that lost everything and sorting out what to do with the current vacation rental platforms-as well as managing the household, this couple came on the radar.
Fortunately, Saimone and Dana had somewhat of a signal where they were currently housed. We scheduled a facetime so we could “meet” and then finished the call via the regular cell as the strength of the signal could not hold a visual call. I learned that Dana worked as the executive assistant to Jurg Munch. Jurg owned the famous and well-loved Lahaina Grill, Hotel Lahaina and Lahaina Ice Cream Parlour-among other ventures. Lahaina Grill back when it was named a different restaurant was one of the first “fancy” dining establishments I ever frequented. It was located right off of front street and over the years became one of my favorite go-to spots. It was the first place I ever experienced a “Taster’s menu” which is a sampling of all the best yummy offerings that a menu provides and is a burned memory for me as it was one of the first restaurants that I became a “regular.” This long-standing restaurant will be deeply missed.
The next few hours working with this couple involves screen shots of ID’s, brief enforceable contracts relating to keeping a unit clean and simple move out instructions. While it is not long term, it is the best we can offer at this time. There is always a sense of small guilt when I place a family because I know there is a line of others waiting behind them. And sometimes it is a luck of the draw if someone’s message just happens to catch me at a moment when I am coming up for air and I can respond quickly. Often there are numerous people that leave messages, and it may be days before I get to them, some I have not even been able to get to at all due to the sheer volume of incoming and I simply do not have enough hours in the day.
By Wednesday afternoon, less then 12 hours after they reached out, the family was in the unit and I was off to San Diego for family affairs and to meet with the Hymans, my business partners. The Hymans have been an integral part of this organization, fundraising and the supply chain so meeting with them after working tirelessly together from afar was a needed meeting in person to get caught up. Although that is another story for another time. For now, the important thing is Dana, her partner, and their two young children have a moment to breathe, and we are off to the next family or individual…