Filling the gaps

LIHUE — It’s not always easy to talk about sexual health, but the nonprofit Malama Pono Health Services in Lihue is happy to help, and they have the resources to do it.

“We get information to people about hard subjects,” said Malama Pono Director Mistee Bailey-Myrick.

Education about HIV, AIDS, STDs and Hepatitis B and C — as well access to testing — is not always readily available, so Malama Pono focuses on providing that.

It’s important that Malama Pono “fill in the holes in health care that other health care does not always provide,” Bailey-Myrick said.

Providing moral support for clients who are infected as well as those who are affected, such as family members, is part of the organization’s services, too.

Malama Pono also provides a food pantry for clients to help “fill in the gaps” of other healthcare services, said Executive Assistant Rob Anderson.

Giving this kind of support takes, and that’s why the 10th anniversary Paradise Ride Kauai is so important to help keep the nonprofit Malama Pono going strong. Each rider is backed by at least one sponsor required to donate $300 to the organization. The goal is to raise $75,000.

“We get riders from all islands, and people from Japan every year, and Texas,” said Elyse Litvack, ride director. About 80 people sign up each year.

Paradise Ride Kauai will be held Aug. 1-2. It is a fully supported bike ride, with refreshment stations and volunteers to aid riders.

The total route is 56 miles. The first day of the race starts at Island School and ends at the Kauai Coffee Company in Kalaheo. The next day, the ride begins at Island School again, but goes north and ends at Na Aina Kai Gardens in Kilauea.

Sponsors have until the end of August to continue donating to Malama Pono through the Paradise Ride.

“We’re excited about the people coming to the ride to volunteer and help monetarily,” Litvack said.

Bailey-Myrick said sponsors have pitched in this year more than they ever before, and she appreciates the community’s support.

Malama Pono Health Services is still looking for bike riders to sign up, and volunteers or “road angels” to provide assistance to riders during the event.

Info: 246-9577 or www.malama-pono.org

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