Updated: October 3, 2022
Seventy-five years ago, a small band of community members on Maui gathered together to create the organization that would eventually become Imua Family Services.
Originally tasked with addressing polio, the agency has redefined and rebranded itself over the course of decades to become what it is today – a nonprofit focused on helping children reach their full potential.
Today, Imua Family Services is the largest provider of Early Intervention services in the State of Hawaiʻi, with an Early Childhood Development Center in Kahului, the new Imua Discovery Garden in Wailuku, and offices in both Lahaina and on Molokaʻi.
In addition to the therapeutic services provided via Early Intervention, the organization provides autism services, preschool education, hearing screenings for children born in the community, recreational programs for school-age children living with special needs, and a dream fulfillment program for children in the midst of crisis.
“While much has changed since the early days when the organization occupied a bungalow behind Kaunoa School, Imua Family Services’ dedication to serving the communities of Maui County has not. And while the techniques and terminology have evolved over the years, many things have come full-circle. The agency sees itself again assisting children and families in the midst of a global pandemic, and as it did early in its existence, Imua Family Services continues to benefit from the generous outpouring of support from the community,” according to an organization announcement.
In 1954, polio (also known as infantile paralysis) had been declared an epidemic on Lānaʻi, Maui, and Oʻahu. The Salk polio vaccine from American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk had been licensed, and clinical trials were commenced in an effort to eradicate the disease.
That year, the Maui community rallied around a fundraising campaign to raise $10,000, the equivalent of about $100,000 today. At the fire stations in Wailuku, Pāʻia and Lahaina, local firemen stuffed all 11,000 appeal envelopes. Roy H. Savage, then-chairman of the campaign said, “Our firemen are doing the job with great enthusiasm. With community-wide recognition of the fine job our society is doing… I am confident our goal of $10,000 will be reached.”
Then-known as the Maui Unit of the National Society for Crippled Children and Adults, the organization had been founded seven years prior to that fundraising campaign to provide physical therapy to children and adults suffering from the crippling effects of polio. The organization was re-named “Easter Seals” in 1967, became “Imua Rehab” in 1991, and finally landed on “Imua Family Services” in 2003.
As part of their 75th anniversary activities, Imua Family Services is looking to reconnect with those who have past connections with the agency. Individuals with information or a story to share can contact 808-244-7467 or firstname.lastname@example.org.,,