Next year, the J. Walter Cameron Center will turn 40. The center opened its doors on April 23, 1973, with 15 resident agencies.
Recently, the board of directors of the center decided to update the center's mission statement. It now reads, "The Mission of the J. Walter Cameron Center is to assist people with special needs by providing a home for Maui's social service agencies."
Today, more than ever, for people with special needs or facing a personal or family crisis, the J. Walter Cameron Center is a place of hope.
Over the past few years the center has moved forward with projects designed to carry out that mission statement and to keep the center relevant and operating at a high level of efficiency. This operating principle is based on our knowledge that any savings go toward keeping the space cost for our resident agencies as low as possible.
Improvements to the space used by health and human services agencies have included meeting rooms upgrades, window replacements, kitchen replacement, bathroom repairs, insulation, floors, ceiling work, electrical upgrades, public bathroom renovation and significant energy innovations.
Energy-saving initiatives have included building retrofitting, replacing traditional light bulbs with new energy-efficient lighting, replacing and installing an outdated and expensive air-conditioning chiller for one that has variable speed electro-magnetic pumps and a temperature sensor that is much more energy efficient and environmentally friendly since there is no use of oil.
The installation of a photovoltaic system is another part of the energy-efficiency initiative by the Cameron Center that has seen our energy consumption decrease by 25 percent, or 160,000 kilowatts less in annual power usage, about what it would take to power 30 homes.
The center currently accommodates 15 nonprofit organizations that provide a diverse range of health and social services, including day care for people with developmental disabilities, vocational rehabilitation, infant and toddler care for low-income families, mediation services, credit counseling and health education.
Among the agencies that call the center home are the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association and ARC of Maui, which provides services to people with physical and mental challenges. The total number of Maui residents served through these organizations averages more than 30,000 per year.
The J. Walter Cameron Center facility consists of more than 48,000 square feet of accessible space, which also includes large meeting rooms that are available to a variety of community organizations and public agencies.
As many as 40,000 people attend meetings, workshops, training sessions and other community events at the Cameron Center facilities each year.
The Cameron Center has been a place of hope for four decades because of consistent community support, including from Maui's business sector. We invite you to become involved with the center. Volunteer, donate or help out with events like our "Viva Las Vegas" fundraiser on Saturday at the King Kamehameha Golf Club.
As we move forward with plans for our 40th anniversary, we invite you to send us your story of how the services of an agency located at the center helped you, a friend or a member of your family.
For more information, contact the center at 244-5546 or go to www.jwcameroncenter.org.
* Cesar E. Gaxiola is the executive director of the J. Walter Cameron Center in Wailuku.