MEO Youth Services members make 250 tie-dye face masks for Kula Hospital staff, people with disabilities, houseless

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February 8, 2021

Maui Economic Opportunity’s youth program participants made nearly 250 tie-dye masks last month that are being donated to staff at Kula Hospital, Maui Independent Living Center residents and houseless people through the Salvation Army.

A total of eight youths made 242 tie-dye masks during socially distanced after-school gatherings January 12 and 19, 2021, at MEO’s Wailuku office. About 100 masks will be donated to Kula Hospital for doctors, nurses and other staff on Tuesday, February 9, 2021. Other batches went to persons with disabilities at Maui Independent Living Center and the homeless community through the Salvation Army on Thursday, February 4, 2021.

The tie-dye-mask idea grew out of the youths’ participation in the 47th Maui County Senior Fair, which was held virtually in October. They put together giveaway bags for seniors and one of the items was a plain white mask, said Jacob Hara, MEO youth services program coordinator.

The youths thought they could spruce up those plain masks, which were donated to MEO, he said.

The process involved soaking the masks in water, wrapping or bunching up the masks to create unique designs in the fabric, applying the dye, drying, washing to remove excess dye and drying again.

The youths said they were happy to make the masks and to work with their friends.

“I was able to spend time with my friends while doing a fun activity,” said Gianna Armbul-Okuda. “It feels good because I am able to help my community.”

“I was so excited because I rarely get to do tie dye, and it’s really fun,” added Laelia Correa. “I can have fun while making others happy at the same time.”

MEO Youth Services “is always trying to find new and creative ways to engage with and give back to all parts of the community,” Hara said. “We thought that it would be a good idea to share these masks with vulnerable populations, such as frontline workers and those who are less fortunate.”

The program, which works with intermediate and high school youths on Maui, has “achieved a high degree of success through hands-on learning activities that encourage youths to become active participants in their community and that provide them with the skills to become productive citizens,” Hara said.

“The nontraditional activities that occur outside the classroom provide youths with various ways of grasping larger issues they may face in their life,” he said. “These activities give them the skills to make the right decisions and empower them to control their own destinies.”

MEO’s after-school programs have been curtailed due to the pandemic. Youths still are gathering, but pandemic rules have reduced the numbers of youths at events and limited the activities available, Hara said.

MEO Youth Services provides a development program that focuses on delivering evidence-based prevention curriculum, life-skills education, leadership training, cultural awareness and service-learning activities.


Laelia Correa (from left), Hina Wells and Gianna Armbul-Okuda work on tie-dye face masks last month at Maui Economic Opportunity offices in Wailuku. They are part of the MEO Youth Services after-school program that spruced up nearly 250 plain white masks, which were donated to Kula Hospital, Maui Independent Living Center and houseless people through the Salvation Army. 

Maui Economic Opportunity Youth Services members made nearly 250 tie-dye face masks, which are being donated to Kula Hospital staff, Maui Independent Living Center clients and houseless people through the Salvation Army. Eight youths spruced up plain white face masks donated to MEO.

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