Maui News

Sparkjoy Foundation Gifts $5,000 to MEO

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(Left photo) Kupuna Julei Naone-Kaiwi received a package from the Maui Food Bank delivered by Maui Economic Opportunity on Sept. 28. (Right photo) Maui Economic Opportunity Hāna driver Karen Redo delivers a food package to kupuna Mildred “Mili” Lono Gorbea in September. Photos: Maui Economic Opportunity.

The Sparkjoy Foundation, based in Phoenix, presented Maui Economic Opportunity with a $5,000 check to assist people in need in Maui County.

MEO, a nonprofit member of the national Community Action Partnership, will use the unsolicited gift to cover shortfalls between regular funding sources, to support unmet needs of residents and to offer help during community-wide emergencies in Maui County, said MEO CEO Debbie Cabebe.

“Some grants lack sufficient funds to meet objectives, and in some cases, people with legitimate needs fall between the cracks and do not qualify for any of our 40-plus programs,” said Cabebe. “We are built to identify and to quickly respond to community needs, and the generosity of entities, such as The Sparkjoy Foundation, fuel our efforts to help as many Maui County residents as possible.

“We are so thankful for this holiday surprise,” she said.

The Sparkjoy Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is funded by personal donations of Keith and Mari Sparkjoy, according to its website. Mari serves as president of the foundation, Keith as vice president. The American Foundation helps operate The Sparkjoy Foundation. Don Evans and Adam Riding, both from the American Foundation, are members of the board.


“Sparking joy in the world through strategic giving” is the mission of the foundation.


Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc., is a nonprofit agency that’s part of the national Community Action Partnership network, whose goal is to help low income individuals and families and disenfranchised people help themselves and transform their lives. Chartered in 1965, MEO offers more than 40 programs that assist low income people, kupuna, youths, persons with disabilities, immigrants and other disenfranchised individuals. 

MEO runs the Human Services transportation program and the Maui Bus paratransit system and Head Start preschools, as well as programs that offer kupuna socialization and information; rent, mortgage and utility assistance; Spanish interpretation and translation; entrepreneurial and financial basics; inmate reintegration into the community after release; and youth anti-drinking, -bullying and -suicide prevention. 

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