Skip to main content
The official hub for news and stories from Colorado Mesa University
CMU's Hawaii Alumni Chapter Fundraises for Wildfire Relief

Shortly after wildfires swept through the region of Lahaina on the Hawaiian island of Maui in August 2023, claiming lives and destroying homes, members of the Hawaii Chapter of CMU’s Alumni Association gathered to determine how they could best support their community.

Past President of the Hawaii Alumni Chapter, Bronson Henriques, who is from Oahu, said that most of the approximately 100-chapter members could name at least one person who was affected and were compelled to help, continuing CMU’s long-standing relationship with Hawaii.

“In Hawaii, we have this word kuleana. It means your responsibility,” said Henriques, ’15, who is also CMU’s manager of video production, streaming distribution and photography services. “The people of Grand Junction who are from Hawaii and relocated to the West Slope, they still felt the need, the responsibility, the kuleana, to do something, to take part in the efforts to rebuild, to help the families displaced.”

The result was the Mavs Malama Maui — an ongoing fundraising campaign launched in September 2023 with the goal of raising $20,000 to help those who had their lives upended by the fires. Malama is a Hawaiian word that means to care for and protect. To date, the chapter has raised around $7,000 through a series of local events, including a cooking class held at the kitchen lab at CMU Tech and a “Move for Maui” Zumba class. Most recently, the chapter organized a Hawaiian culture night that included raffles and traditional hula dancing.

“There was great reception and folks were asking us ‘When’s the next one?’” said Henriques.

The Hawaii Alumni chapter is currently working with local musical artists in the hope of organizing a benefit concert to raise additional funds and move closer to their $20,000 goal. The funds are destined for the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, a non-profit organization working on the ground in Maui to help the residents of Lahaina get back on their feet. The chapter has also discussed raising additional funds down the road to support an endowment for students from Hawaii created by the Ho’olokahi Polynesian Alliance, a CMU student club.

Henriques said he has been touched by the response to the Mavs Malama Maui campaign, not just by the Hawaiian population of Grand Junction, but by the broader community.

“It’s been really beautiful to see people coming together for this cause,” he said. 


Written by Nathalie Alonso