John Arnold, who helped Maui Economic Opportunity establish its business development and migrant farmworker programs, brought staff and board members from his Arizona-based nonprofit to Maui last week, where he met with local nonprofits, businesses and government agencies.
Arnold is the CEO and founder of Portable Practical Educational Preparation, which operates educational, behavioral health, human services, and employment and training programs for youth, adults and persons with disabilities.
PPEP also has a microbusiness and housing development corporation, which provides services to small businesses in the US and internationally.
PPEP has been a resource for MEO through the years.
As a brand new executive director for MEO in 1984, Gladys Baisa said she met Arnold at her first national farmworkers’ meeting. MEO was building its transportation department and Arnold, whose organization runs a transportation system, offered PPEP’s expertise and experience.
“He helped me bring the Hispanic workers to save pineapple in 1990,” she said. “He did all the work that was needed to recruit and keep them here. He was an integral part of all our Hispanic efforts and connections.”
MEO continues to run the National Farmworker Jobs Program in Hawaiʻi, which supports farmworkers and their families to improve their lives and the farms that employ them with training and subsidies.
Arnold also played a role in MEO establishing the Business Development Center, which provides microloans to small businesses unable to secure conventional financing, business planning and budgeting classes and grants to farms and start-up companies.
During their visit, Arnold and his group visited two BDC microloan businesses, Malama Studios and GJ’s Fishing Tackle and Supply; MEO; Maui County American Jobs Center; Maui Economic and Development Board; Hale Mahaolu and J. Walter Cameron Center.
Arnold’s wife, Nayaa, gave a presentation on diabetes to a Maui Planning and Coordinating Council group of kupuna.
Other members of Arnold’s team included board members Edgar Granillo and Walt Pearson and staffers Pattie Mendoza and Tamera Conley.
“He is a real hero to many worldwide,” said Baisa. “John is a great humanitarian who is very humble and will die helping others. He is a brilliant leader and knows how to bring people together to make something good happen.”
About Maui Economic Opportunity
Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc., is a nonprofit agency that’s part of the national Community Action Partnership network, whose goal is to help low income individuals and families and disenfranchised people help themselves and transform their lives. Chartered in 1965, MEO offers more than 40 programs that assist low income people, kupuna, youths, persons with disabilities, immigrants and other disenfranchised individuals countywide. MEO runs the Human Services specialized transportation program for health and dialysis appointments, after-school and youth sports activities and more; and the Maui Bus paratransit system; Head Start preschools and Kahi Kamali‘i Infant Care Center; as well as programs that offer kupuna socialization and information; rent, mortgage and utility assistance; Spanish interpretation and translation; entrepreneurial and financial classes and support, including microloans; inmate reintegration into the community after release; youth drinking, drug, smoking, bullying and suicide prevention; and employment training and placement. For more information about the entire array of programs, visit meoinc.org or call (808) 249-2990.