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Laulima Award
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“And the Award Goes To…”


At this week’s meeting we honor our 2008 Laulima Vocational Services Award winner, Hana School Building Program’s Richard Rutiz.


The Laulima Award recognizes exceptional service to vocational training in our community.  We designed this honor to inspire vocational leadership and recognize achievers in the community. Each finalist makes an outstanding contribution to vocational training, job placement, or career development - making a difference in the lives of Maui’s young adults.


Rick is the Executive Director of the non-profit Ma Ka Hana Ke `Ike which means “In working, one learns.”  It’s a vocational building trades program for Hana High School students – a hands-on learning program that substitutes textbooks and classroom work with tools and job experience. This is how their website describes the experience:  “Geometry and algebra come to life with the use of a tape measure, level square, and transit. Nail guns blast and hammers pound as each structure rises from the ground.  Music plays, voices shout, energy soars.”

Our own Chuck Gray nominated Rick and told us that he started the program several years ago for at-risk kids.  Students who lacked motivation to learn with traditional methods employed in classrooms struggled with poor results in arithmetic and reading.  Under Rick’s inspiration and guidance these same students have surged ahead – some even surpassing their classmates.  In addition to basic skills, Rick’s students receive and absorb many of the “real world” life skills needed to be better citizens. Many of his graduates have gone on to good paying jobs in the construction industry and are now contributing to the community in their own artistic ways. Together these talented students have constructed a building for the kupuna at Hale Hulu Mamo (the Hana Senior Center), renovated the Hana Youth Center, built a Polynesian pavilion, and taken on a number of other structures needed in East Maui including homes or additions for some of Hana’s most crowded family living situations. 


Because of restrictions, the Department of Education does not fund any of Rick’s programs.  He is responsible for raising the group’s $180,000 annual budget – which supports the projects and development of 40-50 youth aged 14-18 who participate each year.  He also manages to secure nearly $40,000 in material donations needed every year for the various projects.


Hana is a small village and as such, the kids are becoming local heroes in their community.  Everyone is aware of the projects they do – everyone benefits from what they build!  And the students are praised for their skilled efforts by the ohana they give back to in this very meaningful way.  They feel their sense of accomplishment and the phenomenal pride that goes with it.

None of it could happen without Rick’s vision and dedication.  He gets local businesses to donate exceptional materials:  bamboo flooring, koa, and camphor for trim.  He works with the community to identify the most pressing needs and then guides his students in the project’s design and implementation.


The Rotary Club of Kahului is proud to present this year’s Laulima Vocational Services Award to Rick Rutiz with our heartfelt gratitude for the difference he makes in his community and in the lives of so many promising young people. 






Once each year the Rotary Club of Kahului recognizes a single individual for exceptional service to vocational training in our community.  We do this to:


1)     Recognize the importance of service of the individual to society through excellence in one's vocation;


2)     Promote high ethical standards in the community by recognizing those individuals who most highly exhibit "Service Above Self;"


3)     Inspire vocational leadership and recognize and reward achievers in the community; and


4)     Set an example to others of the need to pursue and strive for VOCATIONAL EXCELLENCE to the benefit of everyone, their vocations, and the community in which they live.


The recipient receives a stunning award and framed certificate in a presentation at the October 30, 2006 club meeting.  This is the first year of this award program for our club.



·    Non-Rotarian working or volunteering for a vocational training program or organization on Maui (not someone enrolled in a vocational training program);

·    Exemplary leadership demonstrated by the individual;

·    Effective fulfillment of the organization’s vocational training mission;

·    Direct contribution of vocational talents to problems and needs of Maui;

·    Embodies and promotes high ethical standards in business (4-Way Test);

·    The organization’s commitment to community development and training.


Solicitation for Nominees.  Nominations will be solicited from within our club membership.  Nominations will be accepted August 27, 2006 through September 17, 2007.

A committee of club members will consider all nominations and announce the results at the October 29, 2007 meeting.