Jan Kitaguchi, our mother, was one of the many affected, where homes, memories, and loved ones were taken from us in the Lahaina fires. She is known as "Aunty Jan" or "the one that dances hula, yeah?" throughout the community.
In this tragic disaster, her younger brother, our uncle Albert Kitaguchi, sadly was one of the many who lost their lives in the fire. Her mother, our grandmother, lost her home in the Wahikuli area.
When the fire broke out, we could not get in contact with our mother or brother. The uncertainty about their safety and well-being had us thinking the worst. We were finally able to get ahold of her after three days when one of our many calls miraculously went through. She was up at Lahaina Intermediate School, filling water bottles because the water had been shut off on the first day of the fires. The call lasted only about 20 seconds before it dropped. She was so shocked that she had service. Words cannot describe how relieved we were to hear her voice and know she was okay.
After the fires, our mother, being who she is, went around to the homes of friends and neighbors, providing water and food for the pets of those who weren't able to return home due to road closures.
Lahaina has been such a huge part of our mother’s life, as she was born and raised in Lahaina. Her father and mother, our grandparents, set their roots in Lahaina back in 1953. She has witnessed firsthand how Lahaina evolved, only to sadly be forced to helplessly watch the tragedy that unfolded.
She has been a kumu (hula teacher), teaching kids of Lahaina to dance hula for over the past 30 years, sharing Hawaiian culture and allowing the keikis (children) to perform at hula shows in various places, such as the Lahaina Cannery Mall. Her hula hālaus are proudly named "Na Kamali'i Nani O Lahaina," which means "the beautiful children of Lahaina," and "Na Wāhine Nani O Lahaina," which means "the beautiful women of Lahaina." Both of her hālaus regularly held hula lessons and were part of the Christmas Eve service at Lahaina Methodist Church for many years.
Our mother's reach doesn't end there, she has been a foster mom for as long as we can all remember. She housed and took care of many children in the foster system who were in need, taking them in and raising them as her own.
She is also a substitute teacher for the schools of Lahaina. When Hawaii started requiring substitutes to have a bachelor's degree, she went back to school and spent three and a half years finishing her BA just so she could continue to substitute for the kids of Lahaina.
Our hearts are heavy. There are truly no words that will ever describe how the people of Lahaina are feeling. The fire was devastating, and our hearts go out to all the families who have lost their homes and loved ones.
If you know our mom, she is someone who always puts others before herself and would never directly ask for support. For someone who has given so much to our community, we as her children (Kel, Kris and Kasen), friends and family just wanted to start this page to try and help her. Your support, offered in any way, is greatly appreciated.
Our mother's motto is "To teach... is to touch a life forever!"
All contributions will be directly deposited into our mother's account to help her during this challenging time. We want to express our deepest gratitude for your incredible support and thank you for being a source of light and strength for us. With the warmest aloha and heartfelt appreciation.