Puunene Reunion 2007 Documentary

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Welcome Back to Maui, Sarah!

Returning to Maui someday. To live.

It's the dream of many. 

It was mine several decades ago. And I have never regretted making the move back.

My friend Sarah came back home to Maui to live just recently, and I was interested in how and why she made her way back.

She's one of the lucky ones. Many of our young people leave Maui to "see the world" and find it difficult to move back for one reason or another. The high cost of living and scarcity of job opportunities are at the top of the list of obstacles.

Sarah grew up local on Maui, the youngest of seven children. She notes that she was always referred to in relationship to her family.

"Aimee's little sister, Emily's daughter. That's how it is on Maui," Sarah muses.

She attended Kihei Elementary,

Sarah's on the far left, 3rd row, next to the boy with his hand on his hip.
and reading was her passion.

The bookmobile was a lifeline for many local kids.

Sarah attended Seabury Hall, and graduated with the school's top honor, the Faculty Merit Award.

And off she went to college.

Sarah didn't go far, right away that is. She received her BA from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, with a dual major in Communications and Political Science. She liked the program there, and her college experience inspired her to go into international relations. She received her Masters Degree in Public Communications from The American University in Washington, DC.

Sarah worked for the Peace Corps in Washington, DC for six years, ending in the marketing department.

"I went through 7 directors, and 3 presidents," Sarah laughs.

When her term of duty was over (she stayed an extra year after her 5-year tour was up), Sarah moved to Portland, Oregon in 1996, where she worked in communications. She felt honored to serve as Director of Communications for Portland Mayor Vera Katz from 2001-2004.

Sarah has won multiple awards for her work in communications.

Why did Sarah return to Maui?

"Family," Sarah declares emphatically. Four out of her seven siblings live in Hawaii, and she wants to be close to her mom Emily, who lives on Maui.

How hard was it coming back?

One of the big questions was how Sarah's husband would take to such a big move. Luckily, Sarah relates, Kelly Ray loves it here and has already made friends, including some golf buddies. So that has made all the difference.

As Sarah was getting on that final plane to come to Maui after all the arrangements had been made, she had a panic attack.

"It hit me. I was uprooting 25 years of my life that I had built on the mainland. I was paralyzed. I couldn't get on that plane."

Luckily for us. Sarah's panic passed and she boarded that plane.

Sarah's enjoying her spot in Haiku, on a property filled with avocado, lilikoi, oranges and guava. She awaits the arrival of her hubby, who's wrapping things up in Oregon. She's also anxious to see her beloved animals again.

(One sad note is that Sarah just learned of the passing of her dear cat Otis, in Portland.)

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Sarah and her mom Emily
Yes, family is Sarah's main reason for returning to Maui. But she also wants to make a difference here.

Communications is her forte and she now owns a consulting business. See her website Sarah Bott Communications, which tells all about her, with a page of recommendations from her past clients.

Sarah's already making a difference! She volunteers for the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, the Nature Conservancy, Seabury Hall, and Haiku School.

A teaching position at UH Maui? "That would be really nice," says Sarah.

"I grew up here, I wanted to see the world, and I wanted to come back," Sarah concludes. Many of us can relate.

One of Sarah's Facebook photos

We're soooo glad to have you back, Sarah!

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

What about you? Do YOU have a 'Returning Home to Maui' story? Please tell us about it in the comments below... 



  1. Lovely, Linda.
    Emily Bott
    (Sarah's mom)

  2. What a lovely 'blog bio' of your friend.

  3. Yes, can relate to that. I too, grew up in Hawaii, went to college on the mainland, lived abroad and on the mainland, and then came back.

  4. Nice story Linda. I hope Sarah's return to Maui is a big success.

  5. Welcome back to Maui Sarah! With what Linda have written here, I know that you will be an asset to Maui community and we are glad to have you here.

    Thanks for writing about her Linda. I actually visited here first and read this post before I found out this this is your "blog hop post". I enjoy reading about the people and places you write - so community oriented and with so much aloha.

    1. Thanks for the nice comments, Liza! I really appreciate your support.

  6. Linda, what a beautiful story about Sarah. Maui always welcomes people with so much to give. She created such a life for herself on the mainland. I too had to tear myself away from the life I had established because the pull of Maui was so strong. I left my home, family, job, to create my dreams over here. I'm so glad to live on this wonderful island and be a part of our small but Big Maui community. Thank you for sharing Sarah and her mother Emily.

    1. Thanks for your comments and for sharing your returning home story, Marilyn. I know there are many more like us.

  7. Sarah's story has so many similarities to mine. Uprooting my life of twenty years on Oahu was scary and not easy but family is my overriding reason for returning too.

    And I do want to make a difference...I don't have any children (and won't at this point) so I'm hoping I'm meant to make my mark on the world in other ways.

  8. Wow Linda! This is very cool! I love it...great pics and what nice post dedicated to your friend Sarah! :)

  9. A wonderful testament to a really dear person. I have the honor of knowing Sarah personally and can say you wrote a heartwarming bit about an accomplished and "cool" gal. As a displaced-island-girl myself, I appreciate story's like this. Nicely done.


Thanks for commenting!