Maui News

250 attend gala fundraiser for Maui social service programs

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Amy Hānaiali‘i and Jeff Peterson perform at the Maui Economic Opportunity “We are ‘Ohana” Gala fundraiser April 30 at the King Kamehameha Golf Club. Credit: Rep. Troy Hashimoto photo

More than 250 attendees of Maui Economic Opportunity’s “We are ‘Ohana” Gala fundraiser, enjoyed a night of Hawaiian music and entertainment by Jeff Peterson and Amy Hānaiali‘i, as they learned about the breadth of the nonprofit agency’s reach.

The amount raised from sponsorships, drawings and the live auction at the April 30 event exceeded goals, according to MEO CEO Debbie Cabebe.

“We are so thankful for the generous support of the community,” she said. “The funds raised will help us fill the gaps between grants and any shortfalls and enhance our efforts to help those in need in Maui County through our more than 40 programs.”

Maui Economic Opportunity CEO Debbie Cabebe takes a photo with Gov. David Ige, who attended the MEO “We are ‘Ohana” Gala fundraiser April 30 at the King Kamehameha Golf Club. Ige attended the first MEO Gala in 2018. Credit: Maui Economic Opportunity photo

Peterson, a Grammy and Nā Hōkū Hanohano award winning slack key virtuoso, and Hānaiali‘i, a Grammy nominated and Nā Hōkū winning singer/entertainer, filled the King Kamehameha Golf Club in Waikapū with their music.

In addition to the entertainment, the audience heard about the mission of MEO – “to strengthen the community while helping people in need restore their hope, reach their potential and enrich their lives” – and success stories of those who went on to improve their lives after receiving help from MEO.

Mitchell and Cynthia Catugal faced the possibility of homelessness after losing the unit they had rented for about a decade. MEO provided rental assistance for their new place, and today they are owners of that unit.


Caelyn Taibemal will be graduating from Maui High this month after six years in the MEO Youth Services bullying, suicide, alcohol and drug prevention program, picking up leadership skills and learning the value of community service. She plans to attend the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College in the fall.

Those in attendance included Governor David Ige, who joined MEO’s first Gala in 2018, Mayor Michael Victorino, Maui County Council Chair Alice Lee and MEO Board President Bard Peterson, who all provided short remarks.


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