Molokai Youth Services thanks The Bella Project and Mokulele Airlines

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December 1, 2022

*MEO Moloka‘i partners with The Bella Project, Mokulele Airlines on prom dress giveaway*

Maui Economic Opportunity Youth Services on Moloka‘i, The Bella Project Hawaii and Mokulele Airlines are playing Cinderella by offering 75 prom dresses at no cost to Moloka‘i youth, who have to travel off-island to purchase their formal wear.

The Oahu-based nonprofit collects donations of dresses, shoes, jewelry and accessories and gives them away to high schoolers. The Bella Project also partners with nonprofit organizations that work with low income, special needs, critically ill and military high schoolers.

Bella means beautiful in many languages; the goal is to create “Bellas of the Ball,” according to the Bella Hawaii program.

Mela Candelario, MEO Youth Services Program Specialist, had worked with The Bella Project in the past and reached out to them. On Nov. 27, the dresses were flown to Moloka‘i by Mokulele Airlines.

“Not all families can afford the accumulated cost of getting a prom dress,” said Mela. “For our Moloka‘i ohana, it’s not only the dress purchase but flight tickets, as well, to a Neighbor Island because we don’t have boutiques or formal dress shops on island.

“Much Mahalo to The Bella Project and Mokulele Airlines for making this all possible.”

Charise Shigeta of The Bella Project Hawaii said that their organization began sending dresses to Moloka‘i around 2014-15. Shigeta’s cousin Lori Nartatez, a Moloka‘i resident, put Shigeta in touch with Andrea “Titi” Hernandez, who organized the dress giveaways.

“Mela reached out to us to see if we could partner with MEO and we said ‘Yes!’ ” Shigeta said.

“Our hope for the recipients is that they can attend their prom/formal and feel beautiful and confident. We also hope that they make lasting memories.

“We want to thank MEO and Mela for partnering with The Bella Project!”

MEO Youth Services is planning a giveaway of the dresses at no cost early next year at the MEO Moloka‘i office, Mela said.

Moloka‘i MEO Youth Services would like to thank The Bella Project (Val & Charise) as well as Mokulele Airlines (Richard Schuman).

On Sunday, November 17, The Bella Project donated 75 dresses for our Molokai youths’ Prom, and Mokulele Airlines shipped them for us from Oahu to Moloka‘i. We’re planning to host a free event to giveaway these dresses sometime in the beginning of next year so be on the lookout for our flyers. Again much Mahalos to The Bella Project and Mokulele Airlines for making this all possible.

*About Maui Economic Opportunity*
Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc., is a nonprofit agency that’s part of the national Community Action Partnership network, whose goal is to help low income individuals and families and disenfranchised people help themselves and transform their lives. Chartered in 1965, MEO offers more than 40 programs that assist low income people, kupuna, youths, persons with disabilities, immigrants and other disenfranchised individuals countywide. MEO runs the Human Services specialized transportation program for health and dialysis appointments, after-school and youth sports activities and more; and the Maui Bus paratransit system; Head Start preschools and Kahi Kamali‘i Infant Care Center; as well as programs that offer kupuna socialization and information; rent, mortgage and utility assistance; Spanish interpretation and translation; entrepreneurial and financial classes and support, including microloans; inmate reintegration into the community after release; youth drinking, drug, smoking, bullying and suicide prevention; and employment training and placement. For more information about the entire array of programs, visit or call (808) 249-2990.

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