Lehua Park Cosma is one community volunteer dedicated to meeting human needs, a priority value expressed by our community through the Focus Maui Nui process. Through her tireless efforts and leadership, the Hana community benefited from the nation’s first communal home dialysis center, Hale Pomaika’i, which opened in 2009. The facility means that diabetes patients no longer have to make the arduous journey to the dialysis center in Wailuku up to three times a week. “The trip meant leaving home at 2 a.m.,” says Cosma. “My initial motivation was my Mom, who was a dialysis patient and my best friend who instilled in me everything I needed to succeed,” she explains.
Cosma founded a grassroots organization, Hui Laulima O Hana, to spearhead the campaign for the treatment center. There were plenty of doubters that the facility would ever become a reality, but Cosma persisted. “When you live in a rural area, you have to work hard to make things happen—opportunities don’t just come to you,” says Cosma. “I realized that if I didn’t volunteer to make Hale Pomaika’i a reality, no one else would. That kept me going. Now, medical experts come from all over the world to visit our facility in Hana – it’s a successful model for isolated, rural communities.”
Cosma’s priorities as a volunteer go beyond improving community healthcare. “Preserving our culture and lifestyle are very important to me,” she notes. “It’s also about looking out for each other and setting an example for the next generation.” It meant a lot to Cosma that students from Rick Rutiz’s Hana School Building Program, Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike, helped renovate the plantation-style residence that houses Hale Pomaika’i. “County and State officials also played important supporting roles in making it a reality. Now, the State owns the property and the County manages it,” she observes. Cosma’s volunteer work also extends to supporting youth, through her fundraising efforts with Hana’s Spring Festival, which helps support students in need.