Mayor declares May Community Action Month with MEO in attendance
Mayor Michael Victorino proclaimed May Community Action Month in Maui County on Wednesday, May 4, with staff from Maui Economic Opportunity, the county’s Community Action Agency, attending and turning the Mayor’s Conference Room into a sea of pink polo shirts.
MEO, whose logo is the pink plumeria, is a member of a national network of nonprofits, created by President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, to combat poverty and give low-income individuals and families the skills and knowledge to achieve economic stability.
With its broad mandate, the 57-year-old agency operates an array of more than 40 programs from Head Start preschool to microloan programs for businesses unable to secure conventional loans on Maui, Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i.
Agency programs supported more than 19,000 individuals and families and touched nearly 40,000 lives in the last fiscal year. Other programs include the Maui Bus paratransit service for persons with disabilities; kupuna support; bullying, suicide and substance abuse prevention for youth; assistance to recently released inmates and more.
“MEO has stepped up . . . and been the beacon of hope for so many years,” Victorino said at the proclamation ceremony.
The mayor also praised the staff of MEO, “who care for the people of Maui County.”
“It’s not just a job; it’s a passion” for the more than 200-member MEO team, he said.
Board Vice President Carol Reimann noted that MEO has been “the boots on the ground” during emergencies, “raising and blending” government and private funding to resolve critical needs.
CEO Debbie Cabebe said that the work of MEO may be unfamiliar to many in the community, who have not experienced poverty, disability or homelessness.
“But take comfort in knowing that MEO is here as a safety net should life take a turn for the worse,” she said, noting that thousands became familiar with MEO when the pandemic struck and Maui’s economy came to a halt.