The 2020 Maui Economic Opportunity “. . . Do What Is Right” fundraising gala finally happened on Saturday night, Aug. 28 – albeit online after three postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Council Chairwoman Alice Lee, state Sen. Roz Baker and state Rep. Troy Hashimoto joined the livestream event at the MEO offices in Wailuku to honor Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino for his support of Maui County nonprofit agencies, including MEO, and the county’s safety net for people in need, especially amid the pandemic. He was joined by his wife, Joycelyn, at the site of the livestream.
Receiving congratulations and proclamations from federal, state and county officials, Lee added tongue-and-cheek suggestions on how to address overtourism and overtraveling concerns. They included eliminating all flights to Las Vegas and forcing all visitors upon arrival to watch an hour-long video with the mayor reading all 34 emergency proclamations and concluding with Victorino and Baker singing “Happy Trails to You” and “Aloha Means Goodbye.”
An online auction with more than 80 items, including hotel stays, restaurant certificates and airline miles, raised more than $5,000 for the nonprofit Community Action Partnership that works to assist low income and disenfranchised members of the community and is heavily involved in disbursing pandemic relief.
Originally scheduled for March 2020, the gala has been reset due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Saturday’s event originally was planned as in-person, but Cabebe made the decision to move to a livestream platform in early August due to rising COVID-19 cases.
“We apologize for the inconvenience to gala-goers for the switch to the online presentation, but we decided to put the health and safety of guests and staff first,” said Cabebe. “Delaying the event again was not an option given coming events. Thank you all for understanding.”
The concert by Nevah Too Late was videotaped ahead of time, and sponsors signed on and offered remarks. Highridge Costa President Moe Mohanna talked about an affordable rental housing collaborative between the developer, Hale Mahaolu and MEO and the pressing need for housing regular folks. Rod Antone, executive director of the Maui Hotel and Lodging Association, served as emcee.
More than 250 people have viewed the event on Zoom and Facebook platforms. The gala and concert can be viewed at facebook.com/MEOINC/videos/1001042960671253.
About 175 meals for gala-goers were distributed in a drive-thru event at the King Kamehameha Golf Club late Saturday afternoon.
The next gala, “We are Ohana,” is set for 5 to 9 p.m. March 19, 2022, at the King Kamehameha Golf Club.
MEO serves low income people, kupuna, youths, persons with disabilities, immigrants and other disenfranchised communities on the three main islands of Maui County. The more than 40 programs at the agency offer rental/mortgage and utility assistance; Spanish interpretive and translation services; workshops for business planning and development; help for recently released inmates to transition to the community; anti-drinking, -drugs and -bullying prevention for youths; organizational support for kupuna organizations. MEO’s largest programs are the paratransit and human service transportation and the Head Start preschool for low income families.
Maui County Council Chairwoman Alice Lee offers tongue and cheek suggestions to Mayor Michael Victorino on ways to manage overtourism at the Maui Economic Opportunity “. . . Do What Is Right” gala fundraiser livestreamed from MEO offices in Wailuku on Saturday, Aug. 28.
Maui Hotel & Lodging Association Executive Director Rod Antone watches a performance by Nevah Too Late projected onto a wall in the Maui Economic Opportunity classroom in Wailuku. Antone served as emcee for the MEO fundraising gala on Saturday, Aug. 28.
Attendees of the Maui Economic Opportunity gala, honoring Mayor Michael Victorino, pose for a photo at the conclusion of the event on Saturday, Aug. 28. Shown are (from left) are: Rod Antone, state Sen. Roz Baker, Maui County Council Chairwoman Alice Lee, Joycelyn and Michael Victorino, state Rep. Troy Hashimoto and MEO CEO Debbie Cabebe.