For 14 years, Boston-native Daniel Southmayd has become an integral part of the Wailuku, Maui community. As a devoted volunteer, motivated spirit and brilliant pastry chef of his co-owned Catering from Soup to Nuts, Inc. & Vineyard Food Company, which shares proceeds with a new community-based nonprofit each month, the KIRC has been enormously fortunate to work alongside Daniel for the past year. From joining volunteer accesses on-island as a restoration worker and/ or chef to promoting our Hui Kāpehe internship program or Kihei Boat House property cleanup days here on Maui, Daniel’s exemplary support has made a profound impact on the effectiveness and reach of the KIRC.
Why did you initially volunteer for the KIRC?
My friend Dustin Palos, (who is now in the KIRC’s Hui Kāpehe internship program), was invited to join a volunteer access with Cultural Resources Project Coordinator Kui Gapero last summer due to his extensive knowledge of native plants. Dustin asked Kui if he could bring a friend along, and so I joined him.
Why do you continue to volunteer?
Volunteering on Kaho‘olawe has become one of the most fulfilling things I do with my life. Kaho‘olawe is, to me, a physical manifestation of what happened to the kanaka maoli — land being taken away and used for purposes it was never intended; purposes destructive to the ‘aina and to the culture. Restoring Kaho‘olawe means restoring the culture to the people. The most immediate gratification comes from seeing groups of volunteers who go out to Kaho‘olawe bond with one another and, more importantly, reconnect with their culture. It is deeply affecting, and it never fails to move me in profound ways. Every experience and group is different. The work is hard, the climate is harsh, but the rewards are many and exhilarating.
Why is it important to volunteer for this cause?
Kaho‘olawe is, in my opinion, one of the most valuable educational tools Hawai‘i has, and its well-being has been ignored for too long. At this time, funding is dwindling, and volunteering is critical to keeping this important work going.
What has been one of your favorite memories throughout this journey?
There are far too many to mention here! I have a new favorite after every volunteer access, and every person or place I’ve encountered on Kaho‘olawe has his/her/its own mo‘olelo in my life. There are still plenty of memories to be made, and I hope they will continue to add up for a long time to come.
Anything else you would like to share with us?
Please come to the community cleanup days at Kihei Boat Ramp (4th Saturday of every month from 8 AM – 12 PM). Do what you can. Get involved. Be the change. Never give up hope for a better future for all of us and the amazing place we live in.