The union is sending relief checks to teachers who lost homes, classrooms

More than 270 people and organizations from at least 33 states nationwide have donated in excess of $217,000 to the Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association to help 134 Maui teachers and retirees who’ve lost homes and classrooms to the Aug. 8 wildfires.

So far, the union issued 89 members and retirees $1,000 checks to those whose homes were destroyed or are uninhabitable, while 19 members received $1,500 checks because they lost homes and their classrooms at King Kamehameha III Elementary. Another 26 teachers at the school were issued $500 checks because their classrooms and workplaces were destroyed.

“I am humbled by just how far and wide people have opened their pocketbooks to support our affected members,” said Osa Tui, HSTA’s president.

Here is a sampling of the messages of support received along with donors’ checks to HSTA’s Maui Fire Relief fund.

A woman from Honolulu wrote, “Given the tragedy the people of Maui are experiencing, I am so moved by the generosity of HSTA members to help their Maui colleagues with housing and other support.” She enclosed a donation check in addition to sending thousands of dollars directly to members who posted GoFundMe campaigns after losing their homes to the fires.

A couple from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, wrote. “We are overwhelmed with the heart-breaking stories on your website. As former teachers and association leaders from Oklahoma, we stand with you in this time of tragedy.”

“Thinking of you with tears in my eyes,” said a retired educational assistant from Michigan, who now lives in Oregon.

A couple from Rochester, Michigan wrote, “My husband and I are retired school teachers in Michigan. We have visited Hawaii twice and know of its beauty. We also know of its beautiful people and are devastated to learn of the disastrous wildfires in Lahaina.”

“May this small donation help – even if just to let you know that people care and are praying for you,” the couple wrote.

A woman from Ithaca, New York wrote: “My heart goes out to the teachers and the people of Maui.”

A teacher from Pleasanton, Calif., wrote, “As a fellow teacher in the state of California, I am familiar with the devastation that wildfires present. Please accept this donation in support of all of those in need at this difficult time.”

A retired educator from Union, New Jersey sent a check and said, “Your members affected by this devastation are in my thoughts and prayers.”

A retired teacher from Nampa, Idaho wrote, “We are praying for each teacher who has been affected by these wildfires. May you be comforted by each student you serve and teach.”

A Seattle, Wash., resident wrote, “So sorry for the losses you have experienced. Best wishes for strength and courage to carry on!”

A couple from Butler, Pennsylvania wrote, “We are thankful for your efforts to help Maui educators and their families who have been impacted by the wildfires.”

“We are retired educators ourselves and are keeping the HSTA ohana in our thoughts and prayers,” they added.

A retired school superintendent from San Rafael, Calif., wrote, “Educators in Marin County Calif. Wish to express our heartfelt support for Maui educators.”

A couple from Bradenton, Fla. both of whom are retired public school educators from New Jersey, wrote, “We have fond memories of our visit to beautiful, historic Lahaina and are saddened and sympathetic about your plight.”

“Please accept my donation for the educators who lost their homes in Maui. I am a retired teacher from Colorado watching with a heavy heart,” wrote one woman from Fort Collins, Colo.

A couple from Billings, Mont., wrote, “My wife and I are both retired educators in Montana. We cannot fathom the challenges Hawaii teachers face.”

NEA affiliates send HSTA donation checks: ‘We know this is an extraordinarily difficult time for your members’

National Education Association affiliates from across the country have also donated to HSTA’s Maui Fire Relief fund.

New Jersey Education Association President Sean Spiller wrote us saying, “So sorry you are going through this. Know you are in our thoughts and we are there with you in spirit.”

David Goldberg, president of the California Teachers Association, wrote, “Stay strong and know that California stands in support of our HSTA ohana during this time of need.”

Richard Askey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, wrote, “We will keep your entire association and community in our thoughts and prayers as you navigate through this terrible devastation.”

Missouri NEA President Phil Murray wrote, “Missouri NEA is deeply saddened by the wildfires that are affecting your members, students and families on the island of Maui.”

Keith Gambill, the president of the Indiana State Teachers Association, wrote, “We know this is an extraordinarily difficult time for your members, and we hope that contribution will have a positive impact on the relief and recovery efforts in Maui.”

Other educator union affiliates that made donations include: the Broward Teachers Union, Florida Education Association, HSTA Retired, Illinois Education Association, Maine Education Association, NEA Rhode Island Retired, Ohio Education Association, United Faculty of Florida, Utah Education Association, and the Vancouver Education Association.

Donations have been received so far from individuals and organizations from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawai’i, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

HSTA is providing checks of $1,000 to its members who have been displaced from their homes because their primary residence has been damaged by the wildfires that struck Maui. The union is also issuing $500 checks to those members whose classrooms or workspaces have been destroyed in the disaster. Members who lost both their homes and classrooms or workplaces are eligible for both checks.