Government officials, past and present MEO directors attend kupuna luncheon

The 41st annual Kupuna Aloha Luncheon was held July 27 at the Hyatt Regency Ballroom in Kaanapali.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Mayor Alan Arakawa and Speaker of the House Joe Souki all addressed the crowd of close to 600 seniors.

Abercrombie and Arakawa reminded the seniors that Hawaii has a large percentage of seniors. In Maui County, 32,000 people are 60 years or older. That number is expected to reach 54,000 by 2020.

Souki talked about the origin of community action and its relevance today.

Maui Economic Opportunity Inc. transported more than 500 seniors to the event and back home.

MEO has had only five executive directors in its almost 49 years of existence. The first director, who wrote the grant and led the organization for two years, Elizabeth Medeiros, came on stage and told of her role. She hired Souki to replace her. When Souki left MEO to run for a state House seat, Gladys Baisa picked up the torch and carried MEO forward to more advocacy and services for low-income individuals and families. After Baisa retired, Sandy Baz was the executive director for five years. Lyn McNeff, the current CEO, took Baz’s job when he went to the county to be the budget director. Every director but Baz attended the luncheon.

Entertainment was provided by the Akahi Filipino Seniors, the Lahaina-Honolua Senior Club and Wilmon Kahai’alii Productions.