The 56-year-old agency established to help people in need in Maui County was one of nine 501(c)(3)nonprofit organizations in Hawaii named as finalists for the award, and the only Maui-based agency.
Keiki Education Living Independent Institute (KELII) was announced the winner of the Cades Schutte/The Cades Foundation Nonprofit Leadership Award at an in-person/virtual event on Nov. 4. The nonprofit foundation that helps autistic children, adults and individuals with developmental disabilities and their families also received a $5,000 donation.
CEO Debbie Cabebe and MEO were featured in Pacific Business News’ special section on the Business Leadership Hawaii awards in its Nov. 5 edition.
In a letter of recommendation in support of MEO, Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino commended MEO “for easing the burden on fellow county residents” by operating the $10 million Hawai‘i Emergency Laulima Partnership (HELP), a financial relief program for residents impacted by COVID-19. The mayor said he turned to MEO because of its track record of running programs to help low income individuals, persons with disabilities, immigrants, kupuna and youths.
MEO ended up offering a lifeline to more than 12,500 households and 33,700 residents from April to November 2020 with HELP being the single largest short-term program ever administered by the agency. The monumental job required Cabebe to mobilize most of the agency’s 200-member staff with some working seven-day weeks to get the financial assistance for food, rent and other bills to desperate residents.
Victorino lauded MEO’s “heroic work during the pandemic while continuing its everyday mission to identify obstacles to prosperity for those in poverty and finding solutions.”
“MEO always answers the call of people in need,” he said.
The agency continues to provide rental, mortgage and utility assistance for residents suffering the lingering economic effects of the pandemic. For information on assistance available, call (808) 249-2970 or email *email@example.com* or firstname.lastname@example.org.*
Maui Economic Opportunity staff and volunteers distribute federal surplus food on Moloka‘i and Lana‘i once a month. This food distribution on Moloka‘i took place on Sept. 16.