Maui News

Two students awarded $20K scholarship each from Construction Industry of Maui

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Due to the generosity of the construction community and dedicated volunteers, this year the Construction Industry of Maui was able to award two, $20,000 scholarships each to Maui high school students to help them further their education in construction related fields. 

This year’s recipients are Maui high school students, Mari Yamamoto and Cayleb Fernandez.

Mari Yamamoto (L) and Cayleb Fernandez (R).

To perpetuate Bob Poulson’s spirit of helping others, this scholarship fund was created in his honor, and has awarded $80,000 in scholarship funds to students to date. Recipients of the scholarship must graduate from a Maui High School and be entering a 2- or 4-year degree program in construction, engineering, landscaping and/or other design fields. 

Mari Yamamoto (center)

The scholarship was a dream come true for past recipient Connor Kong, who is pursuing a degree in civil engineering at George Fox University. “It was like Christmas had come early,” he said, noting that the scholarship not only helped him financially but also provided him with a wealth of connections for job opportunities, internships and future relationships within the Maui community.

“We are excited to award these two scholarships to local kids who are pursuing their dreams of working in the construction industry. The scholarships encourage students to obtain higher education then bring their newly learned skills back to their home communities on Maui,” said Anthony Nelson, CIM Scholarship Committee Chair and President with Premier Restoration Hawaiʻi in Wailuku.

Cayleb Fernandez (center)

The scholarship mission of Construction Management of Hawaiʻi is to encourage and shape the future leaders of the industry at a time when there is a shortage of qualified professionals and skilled craftworkers.


CIM represents roughly 100 member companies and unifies the community by taking on legislative actions, providing scholarships to local students, hosting training seminars, monthly membership meetings, lunch and learns and undertaking volunteer community projects.

Construction Industry of Maui donates $2,500 to MEO

Maui Economic Opportunity CEO Debbie Cabebe (left), Arthur “Bobo” Leal of Valley Isle Fencing and MEO Community Services Director Cassi Yamashita pose for a photo at the Construction Industry of Maui annual meeting on Wednesday, May 18, at The Mill House. Leal is an advisory board member of the construction trade group. PC: Maui Economic Opportunity

Maui Economic Opportunity received a check for $2,500 from the Construction Industry of Maui on Wednesday, May 18, to support the agency’s programs to reintegrate, train and employ recently released inmates.

This is the second consecutive year that the construction trade group has made a donation to the 57-year-old nonprofit. At its annual meeting at The Mill House in Waikapū, the organization handed out college scholarships to high school seniors and the donation to MEO.

The Community Action Agency, whose mission is to help people in need in Maui County, was the first community nonprofit to receive a donation from the Construction Industry of Maui last year. MEO CEO Debbie Cabebe explained at the meeting that the funds helped the agency secure beds at Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers for inmates leaving jail and prison, as well as pay for tools, industry credentials and other supportive services.

MEO Community Services Director Cassi Yamashita offered a first-hand account of the work of MEO, whose Being Empowered and Safe Together (BEST) program focuses on reintegration of recently released inmates. MEO also offers employment services for low income individuals.


Eddie Rodriguez was set to be paroled in April 2021 and to return to his family and children in Florida, but the COVID-19 pandemic derailed those plans. Forced to remain in Hawaii, he had no place of residence upon release.

MEO came to the rescue, securing a bed at Ka Hale A Ke Ola as well as other necessities including clothes, identification, a cellphone and a bus pass. With essential needs squared away, MEO staff turned to helping Rodriguez support himself. He was assisted in updating his resume and directed to employment opportunities – and secured a full-time job. 

“They kept in touch with me on a weekly basis,” Rodriguez wrote in testimony to the County Council in support of MEO. “They were kind of like counselors. I was able to talk to them and even vent to them about issues back home.

“They were there. They helped me stay focused.”

He even was able to save and send money to his children.


Rodriguez said it was not in his nature to accept help but “learned to be humble . . . take it while I can (because) it’s there for a reason.”

“I was given a head start through the help I was provided through MEO,” he said.

Cabebe thanked the Construction Industry of Maui for helping MEO help Eddie Rodriguez and many others “restore their hope, reach their potential and enrich their lives,” per the nonprofit’s mission.

The Construction Industry of Maui is a trade council of the Maui Chamber of Commerce and operates as an independent association under the Chamber.


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