The golfer tells PEOPLE she designed the Ho’omau Bracelet with inspiration from her Hawaiian roots
"Obviously this hit super close to home," West, 33, tells PEOPLE of the devastation from fires on the island. "I'm born and raised in Hawaii, not on the island of Maui, but on Oahu. We were actually there on Wailea side on vacation when the fire happened."
West stayed on the island when the fires broke out in order to make sure "everyone who needed to get off the island could do so," she says.
"It was crazy because on our side, you never would've known anything like that would've happened. There's ash in places, but immediately, my heart just went out to everyone affected," she adds.
The Hawaiian native says the state is "definitely in the mourning, grieving process" and she has friends and family "that have been displaced" as a result of the destruction. "It's going to take a lot to regroup and rebuild right now," she says. "I know a lot of families are just trying to survive, so doing everything we can to help. Everyone in Hawaii is aunts and uncles. There's no strangers, everyone's family."
West continues, "It's just this huge sinking hole in my heart right now, just even thinking about it. Lahaina is such a special place to Hawaii. It's the kingdom's capital, one of our oldest towns, and just have a lot of great memories from going there."
The Ho’omau Bracelet (Hawaiian for “resilience”) features a Plumeria flower with a .03 ct lab-grown diamond centerpiece. The design symbolizes the unity, resilience, and spirit that defines Maui, bringing further awareness to the relief effort.
"In Hawaiian culture, you get these Hawaiian bracelets. They're gold bracelets every time something big happens in your life. I have three," she explains.
The 2014 U.S. Women's Open champion was gifted one of her bracelets, all of which include a name or phrase engraved, after winning the Hawaii State Junior Golf Association's Tournament of Champions in 2001-02, she says.
"Then, I got myself a Ho'omau bracelet after I won the US Open because I've had such tough years in the years prior to that," says West. "For me, the word really resonated with me because I felt like resilience was a great word for my career and the years prior."
All proceeds from the bracelet's sales will go to the Hawaii Community Foundation (Maui Strong Fund) to support the wildfire recovery and rebuilding efforts in Maui.
The Hawaiian golfer says it's been "really heartening to see everyone come together so fast" to lend help to Maui. "Hopefully, families that are affected by this and are displaced right now, are feeling the love from everyone and can move on to hopefully a bigger and brighter future," she adds.
West hopes the bracelet can also serve as a "personal reminder of resilience" to those who contributed to the fund. "Everyone has their own story of what they've overcome, what they're going through currently," she says. "Hopefully, this is a beautiful reminder to everyone to be strong for the people of Maui, but also for themselves. I think it's a beautiful piece."
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Below is a list of several additional funds accepting donations to help those affected by the wildfires:
Maui Mutual Aid Fund: This group of volunteers accepts donations to support Maui families, elderly residents, people with disabilities and those with limited or no insurance.
The Salvation Army’s Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division is accepting donations to provide meals for people displaced in Maui emergency shelters.
Maui Relief Fund: Aloha United Way, a Honolulu-based nonprofit organization, created this fund that will go directly toward efforts supporting victims of the fires.
Together Rising: Kerry Washington directed her followers to Together Rising, which vows that every "penny [they] receive will go to urgent relief and vital support."
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