A past Hāna High & Elementary valedictorian, Mary Kaui Kala-Brook, will lead the Hāna Branch of Maui Economic Opportunity to help her neighbors and offer her experiences on the Mainland to benefit her hometown.
Kala-Brook’s first day at the 57-year-old Maui County nonprofit was Monday, Dec. 5. She replaces long-time Branch Manager Jonnie Oliveira, who will move on to concentrate on her business, Ka Uakea Legacy. Oliveira’s last day is Friday, Dec. 9.
The MEO Hāna Office is located at the Hāna Community Center, 5101 Uakea Road, and is open 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Residents can access most MEO programs through the office, including rental and utility assistance, the once-a-month food distribution and transportation services, such as shopping shuttles between East Maui and Kahului and rides to doctor’s appointments.
Kala-Brook graduated from Hāna High and ventured to Oʻahu and then the Mainland for post-secondary education. She received her bachelor’s in business administration from Stevens Henagar College in Utah.
Her resume includes positions in Utah as activity director/women councilor, working with persons with mental and physical disabilities, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as sales trainer/account manager with Clearlink and business/sales/catering manager with Olive Garden. She also managed shipping container drivers with CR England Logistics.
When her mother, educator Betty Lou Ching Kala, became ill and died last year, she decided to move back home. She took a job as a FedEx Express driver and did community work in Hāna. Her husband, Elzie, was the Hāna High head football coach, and Kala-Brook drove the team bus and organized football activities and fundraisers.
When the position at MEO opened up, Kala-Brook jumped at the opportunity because, “I know I wanted to work in Hāna and help the people.” For the youth, she is hoping to instill the confidence that they can make it in the world outside of Hāna because she did.
Kala-Brook replaces Oliveira, who joined MEO as a driver in August 2004. A Lahainaluna High border, she was promoted to Hāna Branch Manager in July 2005. MEO CEO Debbie Cabebe, COO Gay Sibonga, Chief Financial Officer Debbie Lorenzo and Chief Human Resources Officer Cliff Caesar drove out to Hāna on Monday, Dec. 5, for a lunch in Oliveira’s honor at the Hāna Ranch Restaurant.
To reach Kala-Brook and the MEO Hana Office, call 808-248-8282.