HONOLULU (KHON2) — Worldwide stars Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson gave a combined $10 million to People’s Fund of Maui, which was publicly announced on Thursday.

People’s Fund of Maui aims to give $1,200 a month to adults who are unable to return to their owned or rented homes due to the devastating wildfires that hit Maui in August.

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In order to prove residency, applicants must show a government ID and a utility bill in their name from their homes that were affected by the fires.

In their announcement via social media on Thursday, Winfrey and Johnson said they had consulted with “community elders, leaders and residents including Hōkūlani Holt-Padilla, Keali’i Reichel, Archie Kalepa, Ekolu Lindsey, Kimo Falconer, Tiare Lawrence, Kaimana Brummel, Kaleikoa Ka’eo, Brian Keaulana, Kaimi Kaneholani, Henohea Kāne, Paele Kiakona, Ed Suwanjindar, Shep Gordon and Jason Momoa.”

Gordon, a renowned talent manager, film agent and producer, has lived on Maui for over 50 years and wanted to help lend a hand in Winfrey and Johnson’s efforts. Gordon also credited Hawaii Gov. Josh Green’s efforts in helping the initiative move forward.

“Dwayne and Oprah wanted to do whatever they could for the people in Maui. I was boots on the ground to be helpful. I wanted to help them coordinate it. None of this would have ever happened without the support and coordination of Gov. Green. He has been remarkable. He’s really made this whole thing happen and we’re so excited that the money, we believe, will get into people’s hands next week,” Gordon told KHON2.com. “We’re very aware that other people (such as) United Way have been amazing here, FEMA’s been amazing, everybody’s been doing everything they can do to make things better here.”

After multiple options were explored, Gordon says Winfrey and Johnson ultimately decided the best path was to put money directly in the hands of Lahaina and Kula residents displaced by the fires.

“I think Oprah and Dwayne wanted to put money directly in people’s hands like other people are doing. There was a lot of discussion about how we best use the money. I think it was Dwayne and Oprah who decided the people should decide for themselves how to use their money,” Gordon said. “In our case, we realized that down the road there’s going to be a need for housing, first and foremost. There’s going to be gigantic needs. So, we’re trying to fill that little bridge between now and when they can get their homes back and the support of all the other people. They’ve been very generous. We hope other people will join in so we can keep this going for a while.

“It was the energy of Oprah and Dwayne who wanted to get this money in people’s hands rapidly. It was through the cooperation of Gov. Green. He was very, very instrumental in helping us. I can’t say enough good things about him and his administration and how easy they made it for us. These are very complicated things. On the surface, it may look like it’s easy to give away money, but it’s actually very difficult. There’s so much red tape and so many rules and regulations. Without the support of the government, we could never do it, and charities like United Way who are fantastic.”

People’s Fund of Maui’s website also presents an option where those who want to can donate once or monthly.

“For the people of Hawaii, they can help by doing whatever they’re able to do. If they have resources they can contribute to our fund, the People’s Fund of Maui, great,” Gordon said. “If they have other skills and services that they can contribute, the last thing Oprah and Dwayne want is for anybody who needs their resources, to give it to them. This is not about people who live paycheck to paycheck contributing. This is for people who have some excess and have some resources and want to know that it’s going directly to the people. Again, I want to stress we’re not the only ones doing it. Oprah and Dwayne want to know where the money goes, so the way to do it is to do it themselves directly to the people.

“I think it’s really important in a bridge. it’s not the answer, and we know it’s not the answer. But what we’re hoping to do is to give some comfort to the people while the government, private industry figures out how to rebuild their houses, how they can get back in their own land. One of the things that’s really important to us is to support people so that don’t have to leave, so they can be here and go back into their homes. We’re very dedicated to putting people back into their homes who had it.”

When reached for comment on Thursday, Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association
president and CEO Mufi Hannemann told KHON2 in a statement: “As we continue to throw out the welcome mat for visitors to travel to parts of Maui that were not affected by the wildfires, it is important to not forget our main priority which is to help our loved ones and ohana that are hurting in Lahaina. Major props to Oprah and The Rock for opening up their hearts and pocketbook with this generous kokua every month that these families can count on!”

Millions have been raised towards Maui relief in the weeks since the fires began. Many are hoping to do their part with the understanding that recovery efforts will take years.

“Be thankful for what you have because in a matter of minutes, anything can change,” Gordon said. “Give your loved ones a big hug and a big kiss.”