As rebuilding efforts continue in Maui, the Miracle-Ear Foundation is helping those who may have lost or damaged their hearing aids.
The Miracle-Ear Foundation, in partnership with Miracle-Ear locations across Maui, will help those affected by the wildfires by waiving the application fee for qualified candidates applying for the Gift of Sound. The Gift of Sound program provides qualified, low-income individuals with free hearing aids and a lifetime of qualifying services, according to the organization.
“People often don’t think about how everyday essentials like hearing aids are destroyed in natural disasters like the Maui wildfires,” says Jenni Hargraves, vice president of the Miracle-Ear Foundation. “For those who rely on hearing aids to communicate, this can be a devastating loss.”
More than 48 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, and more than 7 million people who need hearing aids cannot afford them. In Maui alone, it’s estimated that 3.2% of people struggle with hearing difficulty, according to the Miracle-Ear Foundation.
“There is much stress and uncertainty right now, and for people trying to cope and start to rebuild, not being able to hear only amplifies that stress,” says Deborah Olsen, owner of Hawaii Miracle-Ear stores. “Hopefully getting replacement hearing aids will be one less expense and burden for those struggling with hearing loss while they are dealing with the aftermath of the fires.”
In addition to distributing the Gift of Sound to 3,139 individuals in 2022, the Miracle-Ear Foundation has provided free replacement hearing aids to those affected by other natural disasters, including Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in 2017 and the 2019 Lee County Tornados of Alabama.