In the 1980’s, the State of Hawai’i started experiencing a profound increase in litter and excess waste. With the environment playing such an important part in Hawai’i’s history and culture, the State laid out plans to increase awareness and education for litter and other environmental concerns by creating the Governor’s Committee for a Beautiful Hawai’i.
The State Department of Health’s Litter Control Office founded Mālama Maui Nui (MMN) under the name of Community Work Day Program (CWD) in 1982 as a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization headed by Sen. Les Ihara. MMN was tasked to serve as a public-private statewide organization that would complement the Governor’s Committee for a Beautiful Hawai’i and function as the administrative center to a growing network of (mainly volunteer) county entities to tackle the litter and blight issues plaguing the islands.
The Litter Control Office and MMN enjoyed statewide progress with public education programs and volunteer projects to prevent litter, promote recycling, and beautify communities. It established the State’s membership into the affiliate network of Keep America Beautiful (KAB) in 1992. KAB is the environmental nonprofit that helps build and sustain vibrant communities nationwide.
By 1993, more than 10,000 registered volunteers were involved in “Adopt-A” programs and CWD projects, providing a cost-benefit ratio of about $11 for every $1 spent on MMN.
In 1996, Governor Ben Cayetano faced budget cuts to all state departments, which resulted in the Health Department’s decision to close the Office of Litter Control. This action left CWD without its State-funded executive director and in need of a new coordinator for its statewide anti-litter initiatives.
Transition to Maui…
At the time of the Office of Litter Control’s closure, Jan Dapitan was already a Board member of the statewide MMN and volunteer acting director of MMN’s efforts in Maui County. She was encouraged by KAB to consider the state affiliate role in the face of the Litter Control Office’s defunding, and so the Maui MMN took responsibility as the KAB state affiliate in addition to its County-specific programs. Fortunately, the County of Maui realized the importance of supporting MMN programs within its jurisdiction, and enacted a proviso to provide federal highway beautification dollars toward MMN activities within Maui County, thus keeping this model program viable and in action on the local level.
When the Maui MMN program was given the responsibility to lead the statewide network, it continued to operate a full schedule of community-based litter control, recycling, beautification, and community improvement projects specific to Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i, and Kahoolawe, such as Art of Trash, Uncovered Truck Law education, and the Road to Hana Clean-Up. As the state leader and affiliate for Keep America Beautiful, Maui CWD also organized training for neighbor island affiliates, provided an increased awareness of KAB opportunities to receive grants and workshops, and advocated for the establishment of a statewide Environmental Court (Act 218, SB 632 for 2014).
CWD continued to serve as the KAB state affiliate leader until 2008, when the leadership role was passed on to an independent nonprofit entity, Keep the Hawaiian Islands Beautiful (KHIB). This allowed CWD to focus fully on Maui County, as we currently do.
Jan Dapitan stepped down from CWD in August 2008 to become the State Leader for the KHIB network, which gave the opportunity for then-Program Director Rhiannon Chandler to move up from within the CWD ranks to become Executive Director of CWD immediately following Dapitan’s departure. This smooth transition allowed for the multitude of CWD programs to continue serving the County without interruption.
In the spring of 2013, Chandler proposed changing the organization’s name from Community Work Day Program to Mālama Maui Nui to recognize the islands we serve within the organization’s name, as well as honor the many ways the program has grown and transitioned throughout its three decades of existence.
The Board of Directors voted to begin doing business as Mālama Maui Nui (MMN), which went into effect in July of that year after final approval granted from the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
The new name captures the spirit of the organization, highlighting the action of mālama (actively caring) that dictates everything we do in Maui Nui, as well as recognizing the physical location of where our programs and services take place.
While now doing business as Mālama Maui Nui, the organization is still recognized as Community Work Day Program in some legal circumstances as well as for any business outside of the state of Hawai’i.
Former and Current Leadership
Nowadays, Community Work Day Program is doing business as Mālama Maui Nui under the direction of Gabrielle Schuerger. Prior to Schuerger, the organization was lead by John De Jesus.
We are the same organization that continues to play an integral role in engaging the community to participate in litter prevention, recycling, and beautification events and programs across the County for the preservation of the beauty and health of our environment. Join us.