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PacWhale Eco-Adventures Kōkua Project

Although our PacWhale Eco-Adventures vessel operations and retail Ocean Stores have been temporarily closed due to the pandemic, we’re still hard at work! Our Research, Education, and Conservation departments have been continuing the PWF mission by analyzing data, attending virtual conferences, and creating virtual content to keep peopled engaged and educated about marine life and our work. Meanwhile our PacWhale Eco-Adventures employees are taking part in our new Kōkua Project.  

The Hawaiian word Kōkua means to cooperate and pitch in without regard for self and to have consideration for others. Without our educational ecotours running, employees, all of which have been brought back with full hours, have been offered instead the opportunity to support the community through volunteer work across the island. Some of the fantastic organizations we have spending our time with include: Feed My Sheep, Nā Hoaloha, Big Brothers Big Sisters Hawai‘i, PWF’s Coastal Marine Debris Monitoring Program, Maui Humane Society and Maui Face Mask Project for health care workers. 



Hear feedback from some of our employees on some of the rewarding experiences that have been had so far. 

Emily Johnson: Volunteer Coordinator

“As Pacific Whale Foundation’s new Volunteer Program Coordinator, I was honored to be brought on board to help roll out PacWhale’s Kōkua Project. As a community-based organization, we were excited to establish a volunteer response team that encouraged Pacific Whale Foundation’s staff to give back to our Maui neighbors in need. So far, we have received a lot of great feedback from Kōkua Project participants and it has been so rewarding to see our staff in-action, sharing some serious aloha as they serve their community!” 

EcotoMorgan Wittmer: Ecotours Managerurs Manager

“Given the current state of the world and the employment landscape at PWF and PacWhale Eco-Adventures, we finally have the opportunity to take a breath and do some extra fun projects and outreach. Our in-house Kokua project gives our staff a platform of opportunity to find volunteer adventures in the community that are not only safe, but so important during this time.  It is so wonderful to work for a company that saw the option of encouraging our staff to participate in programs like these.   From fostering kittens to calling our local neighbors on the phone for a friendly chat, it has been very cool to see the ways that PWF is helping our staff reach beyond our normal projects.  We have a lot of passionate and wonderful staff that are taking advantage of this time and we couldn’t be more proud.”

Cybil Moran: Administrative Assistant and John Gaskins: Business Development Manager

John Gaskins

“I volunteered for Feed My Sheep food distribution. It’s a wonderful organization that supplies food for the needy. This was a truly well organized effort by this organization led by a passionate team along with about 8-10 volunteers doing various duties. Although they no longer could provide canned goods (couldn’t buy them and had no more supply), they provided 2 full bags of produce, a bad of rice, cheese, a bakery item and juice to every family that qualified and showed up. We handed out food to over 100 families last Saturday with all them being very grateful for the food assistance.

I applaud PWF’s Kokua Program which has allowed us to participate with some wonderful groups who’s efforts support those in need within our community, from food distribution to those in need and the production of face masks for health care workers and first responders, to offering assistance to our kapuna. I think you’ll find for those that have participated within this program, that it felt good to help others in these tough times and gave a greater sense of community.”

Cybil Moran

“I have volunteered with Feed my Sheep. Sorting food at their Puunene warehouse as well as distributing food at Hope Chapel. It’s a great organization that works hard to give back to those who need help in our community. I’m grateful to be able to help those less fortunate. My grandma taught me that you always give back what you can to others. That’s what makes the world a better place. Everyone thanked us and was really appreciative of getting the food for themselves or their families.”

Laura Lundby: Sr Naturilst

“I worked at a food distribution site in Kahului with Feed My Sheep, helping a team of volunteers in organizing and handing out food staples to likely well over 300 families. I was really impressed by the way it was organized, and to the dedication everyone involved put forth to help families in need.  And to see first hand the incredible donations made by our community.  It was great to meet new people and work together.  Also helped to focus on a greater good, a positive during these uncertain times.  I enjoyed this experience and have signed up to volunteer again. PWF provided an easy platform to get involved.  And it’s a great way to spend some of our time, and be supported and encouraged to do so.”

Cheryl Simmons: Sales Manager, Private Charter

“I’ve been working one to two days a week for the past month up at Seabury helping to make masks for our medical workers. I was a bit reticent to go from my safe house to a place with about 20-30 people, but I knew and felt it was a critical need.  I have been so amazed by the support of volunteers as the turnout has been tremendous and we’ve been able to produce thousands of masks for our healthcare workers.  This work has given me a better sense of community and I feel so good about being a part of the wonderful people of Maui coming together to make masks to protect the medical worker heroes that been been on the front line continuously working throughout this pandemic to protect of ‘ohana.  I am so proud that our organization has supported our community through the Kokua program”. 

Mahalo to all our fabulous team members. We encourage everyone to volunteer with these wonderful organizations!