(Kona Mix Plate owner Ricky Kim and his daughter Christina Kim | Photo courtesy of Old Mill District)
Kona Mix Plate co-owner Sheri Kim shed a lot of tears in August.
First, after wildfires devastated parts of Maui, including the historic town of Lahaina, leaving some of her friends and family with nothing. Then again on Aug. 26 when hundreds of people showed up at her Old Mill District restaurant for a fundraiser benefitting those affected by the catastrophic blazes.
“It touched my heart. It just blew me away,” Kim said of the outpouring of support from the community. “It was just a very special moment to have everyone come together.”
Kim came up with the fundraising idea immediately after watching the wildfire destruction on TV. Thankfully, her friends and family still in the area were OK, but many lost everything in the fires that killed nearly 100 people.
And, as though they were “answering a prayer,” Kim said Old Mill District management reached out to her about a possible fundraiser and doing what they could to help.
“Sheri and the family at Kona are great friends of the district and ours personally,” said Amanda Bird-Zimmerman, the charitable giving lead for the Old Mill District and Hayden Homes Amphitheater. “It was such an easy decision for us to help support Kona.”
Kim, who owns the business with her husband Ricky, committed 100 percent of their revenue that day to the Hawai’i Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund. The Old Mill District and Hayden Homes Amphitheater matched the total sales generated that day.
In all, the event raised more than $16,500, which was donated this week.
“We had some customers come in who were in Bend visiting from Maui and didn’t realize the fundraiser was going on,” Kim said. “They just made it out of the fire and had everything of theirs destroyed.”
The Old Mill District and the amphitheater promoted the event on social media and in their e-newsletters, planning the fundraiser on the same day as the Rebelution and Iration concert that night at the Hayden Homes Amphitheater. Kim said both bands have strong ties to Hawaii.
“There were tears and stories and it turned into a much bigger, impactful gathering than we had anticipated,” Bird-Zimmerman said. “You’re thousands of miles from home just going out to dinner and here’s these people holding a fundraiser for you. You feel seen, you feel heard and you feel cared for.
“It shortens the distance between hearts.”
Kim’s family started Kona Mix Plate on the Big Island more than 40 years ago. They’ve been in the same Old Mill District location next to Regal Cinemas for 13 years and recently signed a new lease to stay.
“This one hit home,” Kim said of the disaster. “We’ve been through so many hurricanes…big storms with the sirens going off. I would never guess a fire. To think that could happen blows me away. I’m just very grateful the community could come together like they did.”
The event is a great example of the Old Mill District and Hayden Homes Amphitheater Charitable Giving Team’s initiatives. The district strives to be a positive catalyst in the Central Oregon community, stewards and caretakers of the natural resources and supportive of ideas that make the community stronger.
It’s the legacy of Bill and Trish Smith and their philanthropic vision.
“We strive to support programs that make a lasting, positive change and that brings folks together to curate a stronger community bond,” Bird-Zimmerman said. “A stronger community bond was created at Kona Mix Plate on Aug. 26.”
She said Maui might be thousands of miles away, but friends and family of Old Mill tenants were directly impacted by the fires.
“We felt this could be a small gesture of solidarity,” Bird-Zimmerman said. “I think all of us were surprised and inspired by how much money was raised.”
About the Old Mill District:
Celebrating 20 years as one of the Pacific Northwest’s most distinctive and dynamic mixed-use developments, the Old Mill District is located on 270 acres that formerly housed one of the largest sawmill operations in the world. The rich history of the land is coupled with spectacular mountain views, scenic river vistas and an extensive trail system to enjoy the outdoors. More than 55 local, regional, and national retailers and businesses call the Old Mill District home. Bend’s Old Mill District – the most unique shopping, dining, living, and entertainment experience in the region.