Cork priest sets up fundraiser for people left homeless after Hawaii fires

In happier times, Gail Falkenbury celebrating her birthday on 31st January last with her friends who lost all their homes in the fire. Also pictured (on left) is Gaill’s mother Betty Twomey, a native of Dromina.

Fr Liam Kelleher, a Catholic priest based in Cobh, and who has ministered in several parishes in North Cork in years past, recently set up a GoFundMe account to raise funds for people left homeless by fires in Hawaii, and in one week the amazing sum of €7, 015 was donated towards a target of €20,000.
Fr. Kelleher has been been visiting friends in Lahaina, Maui, every year for the past 25 years, and regards it as his home from home. He knows more than 200 people on the island who have lost their homes and entire possessions. Over 2,000 homes are in ashes and the world-renowned Front Street is no more. More than 100 residents have lost their lives and 1,300 are missing. It is one of the worst tragedies in USA’s history.
Speaking about the fundraiser, Fr Kelleher says, “I have organised many fundraisers down the years for various causes, but this is the most important one ever.
“I have chosen two friends, Gail Falkenbury whose mother Betty Falkenbury (née Twomey) is from Dromina in North Cork and whom I have known since 1983 and lives in Los Angeles. Gail was with her best friend Chyna Colorado, who lives across the street from her, and they were together escaping the fire. Chyna posted a heartbreaking podcast on her social media giving a first-hand account of the fire. Both have agreed to manage the fund to help as many friends as possible who have lost everything.
“The latest update on August 29th is very disturbing, as the Hawaii State Department of Education reported that 2,025 students remain unaccounted for in the Lahaina public school system following the devastating fire on August 8th. Of the 3,001 students initially enrolled across four schools in the district, 538 have re-enrolled in other public schools, and 438 have enrolled in the State Distance Learning Program. However, the fate of the remaining 2,025 is still uncertain. The schools, comprising two elementary, one intermediary, and one high school, are currently closed due to fire damage. One elementary school is severely damaged and unlikely to reopen soon, while the others have suffered damage from winds, debris, and soot,” he says.
“You can contribute to the fund on the GoFundMe page, or directly to the AIB bank account in Mallow,” he says. If you wish to donate in AIB Mallow, the account name is ‘Fr. Liam Kelleher Lahaina Fund’, account no. IE80AIBK93614607073077, or go the web page