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OnFulfillment Gives Back: Steve Elliott Recognized for His Contributions to Malama Hāmākua Maui

This will understandably sound a bit biased, but I’m convinced that here at OnFulfillment, we have the most talented, dedicated, and hardworking employees in the marketing and event fulfillment industry. Just ask our customers. This team makes me proud every day.

What’s even more impressive is the fact that this talent, dedication, and work ethic extends beyond the workplace. Many of our employees dedicate a good portion of their free time to improve and enhance their respective communities through various volunteer organizations.

To recognize these remarkable people, we are launching a new blog series called OnFulfillment Gives Back—our small effort to bring some positive attention to the good deeds our employees are doing to make the world a better place.

In this first installment, we would like to recognize senior software engineer Steve Elliott and his work with Malama Hāmākua Maui in Hawaii.

the island of maui has clean up volunteers

Cleaning Up Maui’s North Shore

Steve, an 18-year OnFulfillment veteran, moved to Maui approximately eight years ago. He and his family settled in the town of Ha’iku, in an area known locally as Peahi, approximately two miles from the famous surf break known as Jaws due to the large, heavy waves—some of the largest in the Pacific Ocean. “We can hear the surf from our house when the waves are big,” says Steve.

Soon after moving to Maui, Steve joined Malama Hāmākua Maui, a non-profit, community-based volunteer group dedicated to helping the county clean, maintain, and preserve the Hāmākualoa Open Space on Maui’s north shore.

The name Malama Hāmākua Maui derives from the word “Malama,” which means “to care for,” and Hāmākua, which in this context stands for “long corner”—a description of the contours in the island’s north- and west-facing coastline. “The area we work and live in is considered a Hāmākua due to the coastline,” explains Steve, “so Malama Hāmākua Maui means to care for the Hāmākua area on Maui.”

The group’s charter held a particular appeal for Steve. “Before we moved here, we visited the area and I was struck by the state of the land on the road to Jaws,” he recalls. “I couldn’t believe that it could be mistreated in the way I saw it. So when we moved to the area, volunteering to help clean it up was something that seemed natural.”

Steve began volunteering with Malama Hāmākua Maui approximately three years ago. As it turns out, he was uniquely equipped to make an immediate and significant contribution to the organization. “I own a Kawasaki Mule, which is very helpful in the cleanup,” says Steve. “I can drive it just about anywhere, load it up with collected trash, and return to the staging area where we have dumpsters provided by Maui County.”

The team works all year round, gathering on the last Saturday of the month. Work starts early in the morning and continues until the weather gets too hot. Approximately 20 to 30 volunteers show up each time; while some are regulars like Steve, many are eco-tourists who learn about Malama Hāmākua Maui from their tour guides or from organizations like the Sierra Club. “It really pleases me to see tourists giving up a day on the beach to work with us,” says Steve.

Sadly, there is no shortage of work for volunteers. The area had been neglected for decades, first by the pineapple farmers and, later, by local residents illegally dumping cars, appliances, building materials, tires, and any other rubbish they wanted to dispose of.

“I could tell you many stories, many of them unpleasant,” says Steve. “For instance, the number of hypodermic needles we have to sift through to work safely. Or the recent incident where we arrived on a workday expecting to plant trees, only to find someone had recently dumped dozens of truckloads of garbage right in our work area.”

The work, says Steve, has been rewarding and the relationships forged have been invaluable. One of his fondest memories is working with the group’s “enforcer,” Uncle Butch Ramos, a native Hawaiian and veteran who was one of the founders of Malama Hāmākua Maui. “He would twice daily make the rounds of the large area we clean in his UTV, running off litterers and threatening to tell their Aunties about their activities,” Steve says. In Hawaii, it is a sign of respect to address elders as “Uncle” or “Auntie,” and invoking their names is considered “more of a threat than calling the police here.”

“A workday with Butch promised many interesting stories,” recalls Steve. Sadly, Butch passed away earlier this year following a short battle with cancer, “and we all miss him greatly. We feel a strong connection to him as we work.” The group has yet to find a new enforcer.

Recognizing a Job Well Done

Earlier this year, Malama Hāmākua Maui nominated Steve for recognition by Hands on Maui, which honors volunteer heroes from non-profits across the island. In April, the group announced that it was recognizing Steve and 26 other “outstanding members of the Maui County community” for dedicating their time, skills, and hearts to serve others and for having a positive impact on the community.

The organization called Steve's impact at Malama Hāmākua Maui immeasurable. “Attending nearly every Kokua Day, he brings not only dedication, but also a UTV that enhances cleanup efforts,” the commendation reads. “A passionate advocate, Steve's infectious smile brightens every event, making him an extraordinary volunteer.”  

Steve was humbled by the recognition.

“I felt honored to be chosen by MHM from among the dozens of candidates, some of whom I consider more deserving than me,” he says. Steve credits his Mule, which allows him to accomplish more in a day than other volunteers not similarly equipped. “Maybe that’s why,” he speculates. Regardless, to be one of just 27 volunteers recognized for the year was “indeed an honor.”


Moving Forward

Steve continues his volunteer work, focusing on rehabilitating the land near Peahi entrusted to Malama Hāmākua Maui. While last year’s wildfires devastated the western part of the island, they did not have a significant impact on Steve or the other Malama Hāmākua Maui volunteers.

“We did other volunteer work to assist in the recovery where possible,” he says. “Personally, we fostered dogs for Maui Humane Society which, due to the fires, is over capacity. We also donated clothing and contributed fruit from our trees to the local food banks. But I am more focused on my local area and MHM is where I can help the most. And it needs help.”

Topics: Global Fulfillment Employee Engagement