Dennis C. Maher has spent an entire lifetime living with a family member with an intellectual disability. His brother, now 41, has Down syndrome, cannot speak, and is legally deaf and blind. His son, 12, has autism. Many people would find a reason to complain, but what truly sets Dennis apart is his unbreakable commitment to his family, his community, and everyone with a disability.
Dennis is the director of facilities and security at Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk, and one of his responsibilities is looking for ways to improve and streamline the day-to-day operations. The hotel has a green program focused on recycling, and he realized that finding a charity to benefit from the 5c recyclables would be a win-win for both the hotel and the charity – it would save the hotel valuable resources if another entity took over the program, and the charity would benefit from the regular revenue stream. Since his brother had been engaged with Easter Seals Hawaii for many years he made one phone call which, as it turned out, was all he needed to do to start the program which now provides many recipients the opportunity to be employed and engaged with the community.
Working closely with representatives from Easter Seals Hawaii he has grown the program to extend far beyond the Trump Hotel and include other condos in the area. For Dennis, his passion and devotion to assisting people with intellectual disabilities has been a lifelong commitment. When he was in high school he worked in a summer camp for people with disabilities. Now, in addition to being engaged with Easter Seals Hawaii, he was a coach for several sports through Special Olympics and is also on the board of Autism Hawaii. As with many true heroes he sees the best in others, and is the first to give the credit to other people he has known who also give their time freely. He noted, “I have a child with a disability, I have a brother with a disability. I have a reason to do this. That is where it comes from. I give a lot more credit to those without a family member with a disability, those are the real heroes. The real heroes are the people that do not have a reason other than a big heart. I give them a heck of a lot more credit than I give myself.”