Matt joined Ka Lima’s employee roster six years ago and quickly rose through the ranks in the landscaping and janitorial services program; he was named employee of the year in 2013 and promoted to his current position, fill-in supervisor, two years ago.
Twice a week, Matt clocks in at 3 a.m. and cleans the TSA screening stations at Kahului Airport (and at six-foot-three, he’s the go-to guy for the loftier tasks). On alternating days, he takes care of the grounds at a Wailuku condominium complex, a County beach park, and the J. Walter Cameron Center in Kahului, where Ka Lima is currently headquartered.
On most days, instead of making a beeline for home, Matt hangs out with his coworkers after a shift. “There are a lot of nice people here,” he says. “They make me feel like family.” He’s also a member of the Hui Club, a group that socializes outside of work (and Matt says they try not to talk shop when they’re off the clock).
As an organization, Ka Lima has mirrored its mission of self-reliance over the years by generating its own income through private fundraising, state purchase of service contracts, and its landscaping and janitorial service contracts.
But now it’s asking for the community’s help. In 2018, the nonprofit launched a capital campaign to raise $4.5 million for a long-dreamed-of home of its own. Once constructed, the new facility will sit on a two-acre site a short distance from Ka Lima’s leased space at the Cameron Center, and consolidate the nonprofit’s administrative offices, classrooms, meeting rooms, and equipment storage and maintenance base yard, which are currently spread over several locations. “We’ve outgrown the space we’re in now,” Chantal explains. “The new [campus] will allow us to expand our programs and services by 20 percent in the first year.”
And 20 percent is significant. Of Maui’s 160,000 full-time residents, nearly 20,000 have some kind of disability, and finding work can be exceedingly difficult.
And for Ka Lima’s clients, a job is more than a source of income. It also gives them a sense of purpose, dignity, and self-worth. The pride is palpable, Chantal says, “when you hand someone a paycheck who didn’t think they’d ever get one. They hold their heads high.”
That is why Ka Lima’s mission—to help individuals with disabilities live fully integrated lives—is so important, and why every contribution to the capital campaign will make a difference.
Just ask Matt, who will never forget the day he received his first paycheck (he promptly splurged on some new clothes and a few bags of groceries). “It felt really good to know that I did it all on my own,” he says. “And if I can do it, other people can, too.”
To learn more about Ka Lima O Maui or to contribute to the capital campaign, visit KaLimaOMaui.org or call 808-244-5502.