When Otila Massaro saw the wildfires devastating Maui, she knew she had to do something to help the residents of Lahaina.
Massaro and her husband, Wes, created Rock the Aloha for Maui, a fundraiser held on Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and Gardens.
Local residents joined the couple in the garden for a traditional Hawaiian pulé, an opening ceremony to honor lost lives and spread hope for survivors. Hula dancers joined musicians to kick off the event. The fundraiser continued on the museum's rooftop with live music performances by Kūmu Kawehi Punahele. The award-winning professional Polynesian dance troupe Hiti Mahana entertained the attendees with traditional performances.
Raised in a Polynesian show family, Massaro felt compelled to help the people affected by the Maui wildfires. Her mother was a show dancer at the Hawaiian Inn in Daytona Beach during the '60s, so she put the word out to her contacts in the Hawaiian and Polynesian communities around Florida to create a fundraising show.
"I was displaced by hurricane Ian last year," Massaro said. "... When this happened, and knowing how remote they are out there, and knowing that response is not going to come as fast as it needs to be ... I just knew that we needed to help them."
Pulling the event together in two weeks, Massaro chose three local charities in Lahaina working to help those affected by the wildfires.
Chef Hui feeds people on the ground, enlisting local cafeterias and college culinary programs to cook food, package it, and send it where needed, with additional help from World Central Kitchen.
Hawaiian Animal Rescue Foundation shelters and cares for animals while their families are displaced.
Kākoʻo Maui and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement is a grassroots Native Hawaiian organization directly helping the people of Lahaina.
Massaro is planning two more fundraisers in the coming weeks and expressed gratitude for the participants of Rock the Aloha for Maui.
"I'm really thankful they are all here, and it is also a way to honor the people that have fallen; they are not forgotten, and especially for me, it hits home with me for my parents," Massaro said. "... This is living their legacy."