Stepping Up When It’s Needed Most Combatting Rat Lungworm Disease on the Front Lines When the news of rat lungworm cases in East Maui started making the news, folks were concerned. The disease wasn’t well understood, and there wasn’t a plan in place to combat the spread of the disease at the source. Farmers and consumers alike were worried and didn’t know what to do. That’s when the Hawai‘i Community Foundation staff connected with folks who advise The ‘Ili‘ili Fund and The Maui Quarantine Fund. Maybe we can help, they suggested. Farmers needed rat traps now, they realized, and they had the flexibility and wherewithal to make that happen immediately. They all worked closely with other funders, the Jonathan Starr Foundation and the Kaupo Community Association, and 6,000 rat traps were delivered to farms and residents in the areas most impacted, with instructions on how to best utilize the traps and prevent further spread of the disease.
“It meant a lot to the East Maui community that someone was helping so quickly,” says Hannah Werth, Senior Philanthropic Services Associate at HCF. “By stepping up and providing resources right away, both The Maui Quarantine Fund and ‘Ili‘ili Fund advisors made a difference for all of us.” “We couldn’t wait for the state Department of Health or other agencies to solve this problem for us. We knew we needed to be proactive, and HCF and these two funds made that possible and they made it happen quickly.” - Mikala Minn, Hawai‘i Farmers Union United Over just a few short weeks, $65,000 from the two funds was made available to the Kaupo Community Association and the Hawai‘i Farmers Union United Foundation so that they could combat the disease on the ground, when and where it mattered. A community connected through its people and the things they cherish, the capacity to see a problem and work to solve it, an organization that can respond when needs arise — that’s the big promise of little things.
DID YOU KNOW: The Maui Quarantine Fund was created by Maui community leaders in 1900 to provide funds for rat and pest control in response to the bubonic plague. Today, the fund is housed at the Hawai‘i Community Foundation and the community leaders of the Maui Chamber of Commerce advise HCF on where to direct the funds. Ongoing funding from this and The ‘Ili‘ili Fund now supports continued work to determine containment of rat lungworm disease, organize and direct volunteers, and disseminate and gather critical information. To find more about funds that strengthen specific island communities, please visit: