In early August, wildfires broke out on Maui, one of the islands that make up the state of Hawai’i. These fires, driven by high winds, have killed at least 115 people; more than 800 people are still missing. The fires have burned thousands of acres and caused incalculable property damage, especially in the resort town of Lāhainā, where at least 2,200 homes and businesses have burned to the ground. While the fires are now largely contained, they have left behind lasting physical and emotional devastation.

Maui Deaf Friends, the only organization for Deaf people on Maui, has accounted for most of the island’s Deaf residents, but says that some people may still be missing. They are accepting donations via a GoFundMe campaign. In just over one week, they have raised nearly $25,000. They welcome more donations because relief efforts may last months, if not years. You may donate to the Maui Deaf Friends effort at this GoFundMe site.

Off-the-Grid Missions, founded by Gallaudet alumna Angela Maria Nardolillo, ’02, is also working to support deaf and hard of hearing people on Maui. Visit for more information.

The federal response to the Maui disaster is described at

The New York Times lists some ways in which you can help:

  • The Hawaii Community Foundation is asking for monetary donations. This fund is used to support communities affected by the wildfires.
  • Maui United Way is also asking for money. The organization promises to provide immediate financial assistance through grants to nonprofits at the forefront of relief efforts and to households that have been affected.
  • The American Red Cross is also providing disaster relief for those forced to flee their homes.

It is also recommended that you not make plans to visit Maui any time soon, so that relief efforts may continue unhindered.

Gallaudet University has had many students and alumni from Hawai’i, including the late Dorothy Chiyoko Sueoka Casterline, ’58, who was the first native Hawaiian student to receive a degree when Hawai’i was still a U.S. territory. At one time, Gallaudet had a regional center based at Kapiolani Community College in Honolulu, serving Hawai’i and the Pacific. 

The university stands in solidarity with the people of Lāhainā and Maui, and the state of Hawai’i.

Recent News

Stay up to date on all the gallaudet happenings, both stories, and initiatives, we are doing with our Signing community!