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HSTA offers help to members, students affected by volcano

Pahoa Elementary teacher one of the first to lose her home; GoFundMe efforts for teachers who lost homes raise funds

HSTA President Corey Rosenlee brought the plight of Big Island teachers who've lost their homes in the volcano eruption to more than 6,100 teacher delegates at the NEA RA in Minneapolis July 5. On the convention floor, he asked them to go to HSTA's Facebook page and see our links to crowd funding campaigns for six teacher families -- two of them with married couples.


Click here to watch the video

And there was a strong response to Rosenlee's plea, with more than 6,000 people seeing the post within the first few hours and more than 70 folks sharing it. This effort comes after NEA affiliates across the U.S. publicized these teachers' GoFundMe campaigns at HSTA's request.

Here are links to the GoFundMe efforts on behalf of nine public school teachers -- two of them married couples -- who have lost homes because of the lava flows on Hawaii Island. They include some heartbreaking before and after photos of their homes, plus pictures of their families (ohana) in happier times.

This family’s home of 27 years was destroyed. Both parents are educators. https://www.gofundme.com/shapiro-ohana-lava-fund-relief

A woman who spent ten years teaching at Pahoa High and Intermediate built herself a modest home. Now it’s gone. https://www.gofundme.com/pahoa-lava-takes-all-from-teacher

The lava on Hawaii Island has surrounded and cutoff the home of Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences high school math teacher Justin Young and his wife Michelle, an elementary teacher at Kamehameha. https://www.gofundme.com/young-vs-the-volcano

This family’s inn was destroyed and their home is surrounded by lava.https://www.gofundme.com/CrespoVenti

One victim is the mother of two children and a recent widow. 
https://www.gofundme.com/help-amber-rebuild

There's a husband and wife teaching duo who moved to Hawaii from the St. Louis area just two years ago. https://www.gofundme.com/help-amanda-and-mike

A special education teacher's home is surrounded and completely inaccessible because of the lava. https://www.gofundme.com/help-rebuild-islandjane…

If you know of other HSTA members whose homes have been destroyed by or cut off because of the lava, please notify us at info@hsta.org. Mahalo.

The first lava victim in early May

Widowed just two years ago, Pahoa Elementary School Teacher Amber Makuakane lost her Puna home to the lava, one of the first structures claimed my Madame Pele. She and her two children -- ages 4 and 6 -- evacuated from their Leilani Estates home on Friday, May 4.

LEFT ABOVE: They've lost almost everything: Amber with her daughter Alana (6 years old) and Aaron (4 years old).

Makuakane now is working to find a place to rent while paying for her mortgage and replacing the basics of life. She and her family escaped with three trash bags of clothes, a few towels and blankets, a cooler, the kids' bikes, a grill and important documents. Otherwise, they have nothing left.

Her teacher colleagues have set up a GoFundMe page for Makuakane which had raised $72,540 as of July 20.

As the Puna area reeled from new lava flows and daily earthquakes, the HSTA offered help and coordination to teachers and students whose lives are being disrupted on Hawaii Island.

If teachers need or want to help, let HSTA know

HSTA is coordinating efforts to offer kokua to our members and their students affected by the volcano eruption. If you are a teacher who needs help or would like to offer help to others, please contact us and we will help get you in touch with each other, via social media or one-on-one. Call Rae Yamanaka, the UniServ Director in HSTA’s Hilo office, at ryamanaka@hsta.org, on her mobile (808) 365-6979 or her office phone (808) 935-9301 for more information.

HSTA monitoring lava threat; will help teachers, students as needed

“We are deeply concerned about our teachers and keiki who are affected by the lava flows in Puna. The HSTA will continue monitoring the situation and offer any help we can,” said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee.

Hilo HSTA Chapter President Dawn Raymond said, “The Hilo Chapter is a close-knit group and we always take care of each other. We are ready to support our fellow teachers with anything they need during this stressful time.”

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Author: Keoki Kerr
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