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CNHA program supported by Kamehameha Schools equips Maui residents for Lahaina recovery

May 2, 2024

It was a kāhea heard around the world. The devastation caused by last year’s wildfires in Lahaina prompted a global response, with numerous organizations and communities springing into action.

Among them stood the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement offering a unique response to the crisis. They pivoted their esteemed Hawaiian Trades Academy to help Maui residents who were left jobless in the fires’ wake. Kamehameha Schools has generously supported this program since its founding and continues to do so during this crucial transition.

In just two weeks, CNHA set up classrooms at Maui Mall Village in Kahului for their Kākoʻo Maui Workforce Development Program. This program provides free certification and job training for Maui residents to raise the household income of families across Hawaiʻi.

After contracting local and certified Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response, OSHA and commercial driver's license instructors, the Native Hawaiian organization graduated almost 400 Maui residents before the year’s end, many of their alumni going on to work in their own neighborhoods including Lahaina.

For CNHA, this initiative was necessary in ensuring affected residents could actively participate in the rebuilding and reconstruction process.

“We heard from many that Maui wants to rebuild Maui,” Kāneheilua Lindsey, CNHA’s trades program manager, said. “They want to be able to rebuild their own communities – their homes – and they found that opportunity through our classes.”

This intention motivated Jacob Adolpho to apply for the program. Like many Hawaiʻi residents, he struggled with the high cost of living, often juggling multiple jobs to make ends meet. Adolpho’s completion of the program equipped him with multiple certifications, enabling him to secure supervisory and management positions in the burn zones of Lahaina during the debris removal.

“My biggest motivator is just getting people home,” Adolpho said.

Since graduating from the academy, Jesse Hinchcliff has worked on the ground in Lahaina to do the same. The Kailua-Kona native founded his landscaping business in Lahaina in 2022 but lost his equipment and steady clientele to the fires. Having graduated from the academy, he is currently cutting down trees and clearing debris in the community he has always cared for using the same skills he used to start his business.

Jesse Hinchcliff obtained multiple certifications through the Hawaiian Trades Academy, including CDL training.

“I've been praying for something to help me and my wife to get through this traumatizing time but also to step up and lend a helping hand,” Hinchcliff said.

For Hinchcliff, it’s strange to be in a place he knew was once full of life, charged with a strong sense of community pride. Sometimes, he doesn’t recognize the street he is cleaning or where his friends and family used to live. Despite the heaviness of the work, he still feels a sense of purpose because he knows he is contributing to the Lahaina of the future.

“It’s a privilege and an honor and a blessing that me and other locals and Hawaiians can step foot in this community – our home – and do what we can to rebuild,” Hinchcliff said.

Kamehameha Schools has supported the Hawaiian Trades Academy since its inception in 2019. It is one of many programs and organizations we partner with and support because of our commitment to empowering Hawaiians through education.

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