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Kauwela Kaia, Hawai’i Emergency Laulima Partners recipient:
“I wanted to thank MEO and the HELP program that helped keep the lights on for me and my Ohana. I’m a single mother of 3 kids and I was recovering from surgery after my appendix ruptured all the while being 15 weeks pregnant when COVID-19 hit. I, along with all my colleagues, were laid off. Timing could not have been worse. I did not receive my unemployment benefits for months and was so scared for my family. My older children could not return back to school, and I gave birth 2 weeks early. To add on to it all, I gave birth by C-section (again major surgery) and my newborn was flown to Oahu where he stayed in the NICU for a week. We had to return to Oahu multiple times during this pandemic and during one of our visits my newborn had to undergo his first major surgery to correct a birth defect. I share this story with you all because with everything going on it was such a blessing to know that at least I had HELP, 3 rounds of it. Mahalo once more. ”
Photo courtesy of Kauwela Kaia

Melissa V. Rizzolo, Hawai’i Emergency Laulima Partners recipient:

Dear Debbie Cabebe, CEO,

I am writing with sincere gratitude for the assistance I have received in the form of food Vouchers and Rental Assistance MEO has provided to me because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. I was notified during the height of the pandemic that I needed to move after 2 years of residence. . . . Needless to say, I was not prepared to move, especially being on a Furlough from work due to COVID-19.

I know there are many applicants and I greatly appreciate the timely assistance MEO has provided me. I couldn’t have done it without MEO’s help, guidance and support, especially from Nicandor Saladino and Cathy Jimenez. They both have made this stressful time much easier than I could have ever imagined. I love my new hale and look forward to a long, healthy, happy and prosperous residence.

With Aloha and Appreciation to Debbie Cabebe CEO, Nicandor Saladino and Cathy Jimenez and MEO Team for all you have done for me and continue to do for our Maui residents.

Mahalo Nui,
Melissa V. Rizzolo”

Victor Lopez, Rental assistance program recipient:

“I recently started training at two jobs: Lineage and Nalu’s South Shore Grill. Both are restaurants. I will be bartending at both. By the end of the month, I may be back to work 40 hours/week between the two.

My wife, Sarah, is building up a network of leads for freelance business development and photography/videography work. Our son had a setback at school but has been making up for lagging grades. Everyone continues to remain healthy.

We are continuing to knockdown our credit card debt and pay back family/friends we had to borrow money from. Both my wife and I will continue to look for non-tourism-related jobs that utilize our other skill sets.

The (rental assistance) program has been a huge help during a very stressful time. We honestly would not have made ends meet and very quickly began racking up credit card/loan debt early on in the pandemic when we lost our jobs.

Not only did this program and the rental assistance allow us to start paying down debt and keep from going into arrears, the counseling and talks we had with Shayna, our case manager, taught us to look at our spending habits. Since being on the assistance program, we’ve eliminated needless spending and have begun and will continue to stick to budgets for things like groceries and discretionary spending.

Thank you!”

Victor Lopez