Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen declared May Community Action Month in Maui County and recognized the county’s Community Action Agency, Maui Economic Opportunity.
Saying that “Community” and “Action” are two of his favorite words, Mayor Bissen explained: “I truly believe our strength as a county comes from our community and our future of our possibilities that are made better by the compassion, the dedication and the aloha . . . residents give each and every day and the hard work of all of our nonprofit organizations.”
The mayor spoke at a ceremony held at MEO in Wailuku on Wednesday. “Organizations, such as Maui Economic Opportunity, have played such a critical role in the wellbeing of our islands and our people,” he said.
Bissen read the proclamation before more than 30 MEO staff and board members. May also is Community Action Month across the nation.
President Lyndon Johnson in the mid-1960s led the War on Poverty and the creation of his Great Society by marshalling the support of Congress to pass the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. The Act led to the creation of the Community Action Network of a thousand locally-focused organizations to uplift the lives of those in poverty and to generate financial sustainability.
MEO started in 1965 with one major program, Head Start preschool, and has grown to more than 40 today, said CEO Debbie Cabebe. Those programs, which change according to the county’s needs, assisted more than 19,000 individuals and families in 2022.
“Community Action Month casts a light on the work we do, often without the awareness of the general public who do not or have not needed our services,” said Cabebe. “But we are here, should a pandemic shut down the economy or life take a negative turn, as a safety net to help sustain and nurture.”
Board President Carol Reimann noted that “community action serves as an affirmation that what we do works . . . and truly matters,” saying that MEO touched the lives of 47,000 Maui County residents in fiscal year 2022.
As one of the larger nonprofit organizations in the County, MEO has a $22 million budget with funds spent wisely, she said. Ninety cents of every dollar of funding goes to programming, much higher than national norms for nonprofits.
Bissen also applauded the efforts of MEO Hāna, which last week helped transport East Maui residents from Kaupō to Keʻanae to and from town hall and administration walk-in events at the Coconut Grove last week.
For more information about MEO services, go to the website www.meoinc.org or call 808-249-2990.
Original source: https://mauinow.com/2023/05/04/mayor-declares-may-community-action-month-2/