Maui Youth & Family Services (MYFS) Board Member Helen McCord was the recipient of the 2014 Michael H. Lyons II Palaka Award, which recognizes outstanding long-term and substantial volunteer service to Maui County nonprofits. Created in honor of Lyons’ tireless community support, the award is named for the signature Palaka shirts he wore and was presented at the Rotary Club of Kahului’s annual Palaka Award luncheon at the King Kamehameha Golf Club on August 1, 2014.
Other finalists for the award were Sandra Florence (Maui Memorial Medical Center Foundation), Mark Harbison (Maui Food Bank), Dorothy “Honey Bun” Haynes (Maui Arts & Cultural Center), Glenda Joyo (Best Buddies) and William Kinaka (Maui Adult Day Care Center). Funds raised from the luncheon go towards the Michael H. Lyons II Memorial Scholarship Fund, which supports high school seniors on Maui with great academic achievements. This year’s event raised enough money to provide six $2,000 scholarships to Maui seniors.
MYFS helps hundreds of at-risk youth and their families each year through programs such as emergency shelters, therapeutic foster care, outreach and advocacy for homeless teens and substance abuse counseling both during and after school. An Independent Living Program helps young people aging out of foster care with developing and achieving academic and professional goals, while Prevention Programs allow youth to develop peer support from friendships made in a positive environment, which in turn helps them stay on track and reduces the likelihood that they will later engage in dangerous and unhealthy activities.
McCord was honored for her longtime service to MYFS, where she has been a Board Member since 1997. During that time she has served as Board President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, was one of the founding members of MYFS’ signature fundraiser – Growing Dreams – and played a major role in MYFS’ merger with Aloha House and Malama Family Recovery Center in 2008.
Over the years she and her husband Warren have donated hundreds of Christmas trees from Kula Botanical Garden – which they established in 1971 and still own and operate – to community service organizations, local schools and churches. Their trees also decorate the homes of MYFS foster families caring for at-risk youth. “Through Helen’s gifts of time, talent and treasure, she has made significant and enduring contributions that have resulted in a strong and critical community resource for Maui that has improved, and in many instances, saved the lives of countless youth and their families,” said Jud Cunningham, MYFS Executive Director. “She truly exemplifies what this award is all about.”