Volunteers and Benefactors Honored at MEO Annual Celebration
Nonprofit, Maui Economic Opportunity, honored community volunteers and named a benefactor of the year during an annual recognition celebration held on Friday, Feb. 12.
Among the honors were: Arleen Gerbig, a leader in the West Maui senior community; and Jaimie Dukelow, a credit union officer, who teaches business planning to entrepreneurs and financial literacy to youth. The two were named co-Volunteers of the Year at MEO’s 35th Volunteer Celebration.
The event was held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but still drew more than 150 people who viewed the event through Zoom and Facebook Live.
Also at the celebration, Maui Soda & Ice Works was named Benefactor of the Year. The company with a 137-year history has been under the ownership of the Nobriga family since 1946 with the fourth generation transitioning to leadership of the food and beverage distributor. The company distributes Coca-Cola, Popsicle, Monster Energy and Ben & Jerry lines and produces Roselani Ice Cream.
Maui Soda has donated a substantial amount of money to MEO in the past three years and donates about 5,000 cases of products annually.
In addition, Michael Nobriga, chairman of the Maui Soda Board of Directors, sits on the MEO Board of Directors, representing state Representative Kyle Yamashita.
Gerbig sits on the MEO Board of Directors, as well, and has served as board secretary and on other committees. A member of the Lahaina-Honolua Senior Citizens Club, she stepped in as club president in 2016 with the sudden passing of Mae Fujiwara.
The club has been awarding scholarships to Lahainaluna High students for more than a decade. While the club will not be able to award scholarships this year, members have been busy distributing food boxes once a month.
Gerbig also handles bookings for Na Kupuna Serenaders and dancers, which performs at Hale Makua facilities, under the Lahaina Banyan Tree and at the Lahaina Cannery Mall and The Ritz Carlton, Kapalua.
MEO notes that Gerbig keeps her members involved in the community, organizing testimony at public hearings on important issues and projects.
Her co-Volunteer of the Year, Dukelow, shares her time, knowledge, experiences and insights with MEO Core Four Business Planning Course participants. Entrepreneurs gain insight from her banking knowledge and experience. She is employed as business development officer with Hawaiʻi State Federal Credit Union.
She has worked with youth at MEO’s Teen Financial Literacy Workshop, which focuses on budgeting and saving goals, basic banking, how to apply for a job and the credit process.
Dukelow also volunteers her time to other nonprofit organizations and endeavors, including the Maui Food Bank, Maui Friends of the Library, King Kekaulike High as senior project judge and Hālau Keʻalaokamaile, as silent auction organizer. She also gives financial education presentations at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College and at both high and intermediate schools.
The hour-long celebration included speeches by Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino and County Council Chairwoman Alice Lee. Guest speaker Bevanne Bowers, executive director of Maui Mediation Services and immediate past president of the Maui Nonprofit Directors Association, spoke about the power and value of volunteers in our community.
MEO, a 56-year-old nonprofit, offers programs countywide for business development; youth, including workforce preparation, substance abuse prevention and Head Start; senior club coordination; rental and energy assistance; and integration of formerly incarcerated individuals into the community.
MEO also runs the Maui Bus ADA paratransit service through a contract with Maui County and operates human services transportation, providing rides for seniors, persons with disabilities, youths and residents in rural areas throughout Maui County.