Young entrepreneur makes donation to MEO

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March 12, 2021

A 7 1/2 year old entrepreneur chose the Maui Economic Opportunity Head
Start program to receive $150 from the proceeds of her handmade bracelet
sales.

“I wanted to help people,” said Mila Diaz of Wailuku. “It makes you feel
good . . . because I am giving to other people, not me.”

Her father, Aaron, said his daughter really wanted to help children on the
island. MEO was the only one he could find “that spoke about giving back
specifically to the children in need on the island.”

“That’s the biggest reason why” MEO was selected as Mila’s benefactor, he
said.

For the past 56 years, the nonprofit MEO has run the Head Start
pre-kindergarten program for children from low income families in Maui
County. There currently are 13 in-person and virtual sites that serve 3 and
4 year olds. MEO’s Early Childhood Services division also operates the Kahi
Kamali`i Infant/Toddler program.

In all, more than 250 students and their families are enrolled in MEO’s
Early Childhood Services programs.

Aaron and wife, Kaitlin, and Mila and her siblings, Tevita, 6, and Samson,
4, stopped by MEO’s Wailuku office on Wednesday, March 10, to present the
gift to Debbi Amaral, the director of MEO’s Early Childhood Services.

The bracelet-making venture was the result of a coalescence of Mila’s
attraction to jewelry, her entrepreneurial spirit sparked by the family
business and her parent’s desire to teach their daughter about the rewards
of giving back to the community.

“Honestly, that’s our only goal as parents,” said Aaron about instilling
the value of altruism. “We do our best to give back to the community.”

The family runs Haleakava, a kava bar, at 1794 S. Kihei Road. The business
caters to a mostly local clientele and has been doing OK amid the pandemic,
Aaron said.

When they opened Haleakava, it sparked the entrepreneurial spirit in Mila.
She put an “open” sign on the door to her room, said her dad.

“I could tell she was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug,” he said.

“I told her, ‘yeah if this is something you want to do I will help you,’ ’’
Aaron recalled. “ ‘But we are going to have to give back. So you will have
to pick the charity you would like to give back to.’ ’’

The charity ended up being MEO. Aaron went on Facebook to the Maui Mommies
and Maui Bulletin Board pages and asked the communities for ideas on
organizations that give back to youths. Someone reached out and suggested
MEO Head Start.

The business idea stemmed from Mila being “very much into jewelry and
glittery things,” said Aaron.

“She’s making them for other people and giving them out,” he said. “We
thought this would go hand in hand with what she is used to.”

Mila used twine and pineapple and wave charms to create her bracelets in
multiple colors. She began selling them at the beginning of February for $3
each or two for $5.

She sold 100 bracelets and donated $100 from the sales to MEO. One donor
gave her $50 for the cause, so her donation to MEO totaled $150. The rest
of the revenues were used for materials and her hula activities, said Aaron.

She plans to make donations to a special cause each month.

When asked if Mila needed some business advice, Aaron laughed and said his
daughter is “a really good negotiator.” They set up a stand in the kava
shop for Mila to sell her bracelets and posted the bracelet sale on
Facebook.

“It sells itself,” Aaron said. “People are eager to help.”

                

Photos, left to right:

Photo courtesy of Diaz family

Mila Diaz makes bracelets that she sells at the family’s kava bar in Kihei.
She made a $150 donation to Maui Economic Opportunity from the proceeds of
the sale.

Photo courtesy of Diaz family

Mila Diaz sold bracelets she made at a stand in the family’s kava bar,
Haleakava, in Kihei. She donated some of the proceeds from the sale to Maui
Economic Opportunity.

Maui Economic Opportunity photo

Mila Diaz presented $150 to Maui Economic Opportunity’s Head Start program
on Wednesday, March 10, at MEO’s Wailuku office. Shown are (from left)
Debbi Amaral, director, and Alexandria Domingo, assistant director, of MEO
Early Childhood Services; Aaron, Mila, Tevita, Samson and Kaitlin Diaz.

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