The Maui News
Realtor delivers compassion to those in need
Aesop once said: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
The ancient Greek storyteller’s words resonate with Kim Licata of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers who, quite literally, goes the extra mile to help people in need.
Since 2014, Licata and her two children, Keoni, 11, and Lyvia, 6, have hand-delivered dozens of meal pouches — large Ziplock baggies filled with homemade sandwiches, freshly baked cookies, bags of chips and bottles of water—to Maui’s unsheltered.
The family will load the pouches into Licata’s car and spend the afternoon driving around looking for anyone who needs a meal and a little company.
“We introduce ourselves, shake hands, ask their names, and ask if they are hungry and would like something to eat,” Licata said. “Sometimes we start at the Banyan Tree in Lahaina and walk until we reach Longhi’s and then we turn back. We are usually able to hand out all of the pouches on the walk. People are so thankful. It fills us with gratitude, but at the same time, it’s incredibly heartbreaking that there are humans who are starving and struggling in our own backyard.”
When Licata first conceived of the idea four years ago, the family distributed the meal pouches during the holiday season, but over time, they began making deliveries year-round.
“Eventually it became a regular activity that my children and I grew to love,” she explained. “There are times that we go as regularly as once a month, and when we go too long without doing it, my children start missing it and will ask when we can feed the homeless again. It is a real family tradition of us getting the food to prepare, making the pouches and handing them out — one that I feel more families should do.”
Apart from knowing she’s helping nourish those in need, Licata says watching Lyvia and Keoni learn and practice compassion is the greatest reward.
“It is a beautiful thing to watch my children fearlessly approach people, shake their hands and offer them food,” she said. “The smiles and gratitude that my children get to experience is completely rewarding. They have such a sense of purpose for something that actually matters, and I’ve been able to teach them to always remain grateful and humble no matter what our own life circumstance is; these are values that will keep their feet on the ground for the rest of their lives. They’ve learned that gratitude and love are not just feelings to be felt — but actions that must be exercised regularly to have a real impact.”
In fact, she said, “It is not unusual for my daughter to see someone outside of a market asking for change and then go into the store and pick out entire bags of groceries for them.”
And Licata has learned from the experience, too.
“Besides the quality time with my children doing something meaningful, it really keeps life in perspective,” she said. “On days that I feel overwhelmed by life or feel down and out, it reminds me that life is not about how much money we have or don’t have; it is about being kind, helping others and making sure that people don’t feel alone in this world.”
With that in mind, Licata hopes others will consider following her lead.
“I am always encouraging people to do this, and not just during the holidays,” she said. “People struggle all yearround and a simple gesture at the holidays barely scratches the surface. It is a good start, but it should be done all year.”
And Licata knows firsthand that these acts of kindness benefit the giver and the receiver.
“There is no better medicine for the soul than helping others,” she said. “Compassion is a powerful action. It is free, it is easy to give and it changes lives. It can even save a life.”
■ Do you know a Realtors Association of Maui member who should be recognized for their contributions to the community? If so, send your story idea to Sarah Ruppenthal at miss firstname.lastname@example.org.