Music and Food for a Cause

Melveen Leed graced the audience at the annual Habitat for Humanity banquet, singing and telling jokes.

Habitat for Humanity fundraiser banquet a success.

By Léo Azambuja

Great entertainment rocked Hotel Molokai last week while the public enjoyed a Hawaiian feast. The third annual Habitat for Humanity (HFH) banquet drew a large crowd last Thursday, raising funds for the organization’s noble cause.

The non-profit Christian organization builds inexpensive homes for people in need throughout the world.

“I really believe in Habitat,” said Claud Sutcliffe, HFH Molokai secretary. “We all deserve decent, affordable housing.”

Sutcliffe formally addressed the crowd of over 300 at the hotel supporting HFH. He said there was an “enormous” need for housing on Molokai, and that the community should help the needy because “it is the right thing to do.”

The banquet was scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. However, food and beverage manager Ramona Smith said a lot of guests were arriving as early as 4 p.m.

Executive chef Mia Gaines prepared a Hawaiian-themed banquet that made most of them want to come up for a second serving. Kahlua pig, mahi-mahi, hibachi chicken, long-rice, white rice, salad, dinner rolls and an array of desserts and fruits were on the menu. The ever-smiling chef and staff never let the buffet line run out of food.

Kumu April Kealoha’s hula halau of Kilohana opened the entertainment with a vibrant display of Hawaiian culture. After performing, all the keiki from the halau brought their lei and presented them to the kupuna having dinner.

The highlight of the night was Melveen Leed. With a high-energy level, the Molokai born-and-raised musician rocked the crowd. When she performed Wahine Ilikea many in the audience sang along to the lyrics that praise the island’s beauty. At that point the jovial Leed put the microphone aside and performed hula, to the delight of the audience.

Close to the end of her show, Leed said the late Don Ho was one her biggest inspirations. It was Ho who taught “da Tita” how to project Hawaii well in the world, according to her.

Outside the dining room, a silent auction and a ticket drawing added monetary value to the fundraiser. Sutcliffe said that last year more than half of the $8,315 raised at the event came from the silent auction and donations.

Michael Drew, the hotel’s general manager, was all smiles. “We held this banquet because we want to support the Habitat for Humanity and the people of Molokai,” he said. “It went really well, everyone was happy with the entertainment and the food.”

The event also served to announce the upcoming HFH projects. On Feb. 1 the public is invited to help Halona and Gay Kaopuiki build their dream-home in Ho`olehua. In March it will be Nani Duvauchelle and her three children’s turn to have their home built by HFH.

“Everyone is invited to come,” HFH executive director Jean Han said. “Just bring your hammer and some glue.”

Those interested in volunteering at HFH should call Han or Ui Colon at 560-5444.

Mahalo to the various sponsors and donors who help Molokai residents to build their homes. Special mahalo to Hotel Molokai for providing the location to the successful event.


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