Saturday’s fundraiser for the veterans’ center at Paddlers’ Inn was a big success! Molokai Veterans Caring for Veterans earned over $20,000 that night. Big thank you to Michael Helm for spearheading the event. Unfortunately, Larry Helm was not able to attend but he was there via video chat line to see the festivities and to thank all the participants. Uncle Larry also received a flag and certificate for his support of the Special Operation Forces Team that paddled the Kaiwi Channel in the 2012 Molokai Hoe race to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Foundation.
Money raised from the pavers was a big success and will help with the finishing touches for the kitchen and sewer system. Please continue to donate. The MVCV needs to raise close to $100,000 to complete the parking lot. Mahalo! Please send donations to – Molokai Veterans Caring For Veterans, Building Fund c/o Alice Kono, Treasurer, P.O. Box 1633, Kaunakakai, HI 96748. Please make checks out to ‘Molokai Veterans Caring For Veterans.’ The organization is a 501c3 Non-Profit. All donations are tax-deductible. Contact email: MolokaiVeteransCaringForVeterans@yahoo.com.
Molokai Veterans Caring for Veterans, and their commander Larry Helm, need your help on Saturday at a special event at Paddlers’ Inn to help raise funds for the new Molokai Veterans Center building.
Both the MVCV and the entire Helm ‘ohana are going through a transition right now. The veterans are fighting for the last few thousand dollars needed to complete the center and receive a certificate of occupancy while Larry is fighting for his life as he battles terminal liver cancer.
“Many veterans will not have the chance to be able to see the Veterans Center,” said Larry recently. “It is sad that it has taken this long, just going through the bureaucratic red tape. So many Molokai veterans are not alive to be able to see its completion and use it, including me. It has been very stressful.”
While the veterans did hold a Veterans’ Day ceremony at the new location on Wharf Road back in November, the building still has not received its finishing touches. Fixtures need to be put in place and the parking lot needs paving. Meanwhile, Maui County is withholding the last $46,000 still owed to the Molokai veterans group (more on that later).
“Now, it is an opportunity for everyone to work together to get it done,” Larry implored. “The Molokai Veterans Center is for the veterans of the past, those returning from war, future veterans and their families. They will be able to have a place of refuge and receive services, which they so very much deserve. The center is also for the Molokai community when the veterans are not using it as it will have a commercial kitchen.”
The 3,000 square-foot center has been in the works for over five years. The “bureaucratic red tape” Larry refers to held up construction for years as county officials fumbled the zoning and permitting issues. The numerous mistakes made by Maui County officials have been well-documented and resulted in lost jobs and a civil lawsuit against those officials, including former Mayor Charmaine Tavares. The real tragedy of these delays is that 55 Molokai veterans died during this time and were not able to see or benefit from the new center.
As a community we can all support the new veterans center at Saturday’s fundraiser, organized by Paddlers’ Inn owner Jerry Johnson and bartender (and Larry’s son) Mike Helm. It will feature live entertainment with four bands, a special guest and prime rib and mahimahi specials. A portion of each special sold will be donated to the building fund.
For those wishing to do something extra, there will be an opportunity to donate and receive a paver with an engraved name that will line the walkway of the new Veterans’ Center. By donating $500 (black) or $250 (grey) to the building fund, anyone can receive a paver with the name of your choice engraved on it. Get together with your ‘ohana to pitch in for one to commemorate a loved one or with your co-workers for a business!
Before he fell ill, Larry was fighting the county to release the final $46,000 promised in a grant. According to Larry, county rules regarding “prevailing wages” require the veterans to hire $60 an hour contractors when using county money. The veterans, however, have found local licensed contractors who are willing to do the same work for $20 an hour or less.
If enough money can be raised, the kitchen can be finished soon along with other final details.
The fundraiser begins Saturday, June 8, at 3 p.m. at Paddlers’ Inn, 10 N. Mohala St., in Kaunakakai.