Mayor Declares May “Community Action Month”
Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino declared May Community Action Month in the county and recognized Maui Economic Opportunity for its contributions, especially with its work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A virtual proclamation ceremony was held Tuesday, May 4, and coincided with national Community Action Month in May. The nonprofit MEO is one of more than a thousand Community Action Partnership agencies across the nation with a mission of fighting poverty and a goal of empowering low income individuals and families, persons with disabilities, immigrants and other disenfranchised groups to improve their own lives.
The proclamation noted that MEO helped 40,400 people in Maui County and touched 121,000 lives in 2020.
“You folks have done a fabulous job for many, many, many years,” Victorino said about MEO during the ceremony. “You have helped families for more than 56 years and keep some stability in this crazy economic times and other economic downturns.”
He noted that MEO through grants, including from Maui County, helped keep 13,000 households stable during the pandemic.
“You have made our community a stronger community; you’ve made Maui Nui strong,” said the mayor, “And you, the people of MEO, provide more than just economic opportunity; you provide dignity, hope, education and the tools for our people to become more self-sufficient.”
“I’ve been very proud of what you do. Your work really does make a difference… We never say thank you enough, and we may not even recognize your efforts, but it makes a difference in the community out there called Maui. Mahalo for everything you have done and continue to do and will do,” he said.
Carol Reimann, vice president of the MEO Board of Directors, noted that Community Action Agencies across the nation like MEO “transform communities by creating and expanding economic opportunities to help stabilize our families.” She thanked the mayor for his support of MEO. MEO proudly serves Maui County as a lifeline for many of our residents,” she said.
“The need for community action has never been greater, and neither has been our resolve,” said MEO CEO Debbie Cabebe. “We’re challenged to create solutions that don’t just help people stay afloat but build stability, dignity and whenever possible, prosperity. The staff of MEO stand united and together, and we will rise to the challenge.”
MEO, a product of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, offers a wide range of programs that serve those in poverty, kupuna, youth from infants to teenagers, immigrants and persons with disabilities. Services offered include rental and utilities assistance, micro loans for businesses and farms, business planning classes for entrepreneurs, reintegration help for recently released inmates and economic and educational assistance for farm workers.
Youth programs include Head Start pre-kindergarten learning; suicide, tobacco, drugs, alcohol and bullying prevention and family building. MEO also runs the Maui Bus paratransit and the county’s Human Services transportation systems.
To mark the month, MEO’s departments are planning Community Action Week festivities in-house and are posting videos, photos and information on MEO’s website at meoinc.org and on the agency’s Facebook page.
“To all of you I say congratulations, job well done, but the job’s not over,” said Victorino. “There’s a lot more to be done.”