Maui Business

Maui’s Virtual Abilities Awareness Fair Draws 700 Viewers and 20 Vendors/Support Groups

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Nani Watanabe, Maui Independent Center program coordinator, presents a certificate of recognition to The Lions Club of Maui (represented by Angie Hara) for its work on behalf of persons with disabilities. Photo Credit: Maui Economic Opportunity

The Abilities Awareness Fair, an informational gathering for persons with disabilities, attracted nearly 20 vendors and support groups and almost 700 viewers to a livestreamed event Friday.

Because the event could not be held in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, viewers were shown one-minute video “commercials” from vendors and support groups.

The Abilities Awareness Fair was hosted by the Maui Economic Opportunity’s Maui Independent Living Center, which aims to connect people with disabilities, their families and caretakers with community resources and opportunities and to provide information.


“Instead of focusing on what their disabilities are, the program allows individuals instead to show off on their abilities,” MEO CEO Debbie Cabebe said.

The Lions Club of Maui and the late Ruth Kuloloio were honored at the fair for their service and caring for persons with disabilities in the community.

Nani Watanabe, Maui Independent Living Center program coordinator, honors the late Ruth Kuloloio for her work as a caregiver and supporter of persons with disabilities by providing a certificate to David Tallant, Kuloloio’s companion and recipient of her caregiving. Photo credit: Maui Economic Opportunity

The Lions Club of Maui has consistently volunteered and provided labor and assistance for the community of persons with disabilities. Lions members have organized Thanksgiving picnics for the blind and deaf community, preparing meals and running Bingo games with prizes.


Other community service work by Lions members include running vision screening at preschools, elementary schools and high schools and collecting used glasses.

Kuloloio was honored for her dedication and commitment to serving the persons with disabilities community. After working in security, she became a full-time caregiver for her lifelong companion, David Tallant, and worked at Mastercare and ʻOhana Health.

She served as a member of the Maui Independent Living Center’s support group and organized training sessions, program meetings and community events, while ensuring Tallant’s participation in events.


Kuloloio lost her battle with cancer in August 2020. She was 46 years old.

“She always had a smile,” a presenter at the event said. “She loved helping people no matter what challenges she faced and she never gave up. She was always concerned about other people’s well-being other than her own.”

MEO’s Maui Independent Living Center serves abled or special needs clients in Maui County by caring for, building survival skills and promoting independence. Clients include those with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, blindness, hearing impairment, intellectual challenges and paralysis from birth defects, strokes or accident.

For more information on MEO’s Maui Independent Living Center, call 249-2990, email [email protected] or go to the website


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