HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In an old building covered by a large mural, youth from Kalihi congregate to repair broken bicycles.
But they're really learning life lessons.
“The program that we’re doing, although it’s bikes, it’s mental health,” said Kevin Faller, program manager and youth specialist for the Kalihi Valley Instructional Bike Exchange or KVIBE.
The non-profit’s location on Kamehameha IV Road serves as a safe gathering place and mentoring center for young men and boys.
“We believe they come as they are, we love them as they are, and we hope they can love other people as they are, too,” Faller said.
Bicycle building is a tool KVIBE mentors use to guide participants called interns toward community leadership. They learn the value of being good role models, setting goals and working with others.
“It makes me feel like I know what I am and I’m proud of who I am,” 14-year-old Jesson Guarin said.
But vital grant funding for KVIBE from the Movember Foundation is coming to an end in September, and there’s no guarantee it will continue through 2020.
So KVIBE is looking for other sources to help with long-term support.
It takes about $200,000 a year to staff and operate the Kalihi program.
"I believe if the community, Oahu or Hawaii knows about us there will be really kind hearts out there that might want to support something like this," Faller said.
KVIBE estimates it has helped more than 900 youth since it started in 2005.
“We could be out on the street. But with KVIBE we get connected to the community. We get rooted,” said 12-year-old Franson Eram.
“I’m kinda grateful to them because they made me what they call the better version of myself,” added 16-year-old Bingham Malagamaalii.
Stable funding could enable KVIBE to expand the Kalihi program to reach more youth, and possibly establish other centers in communities where youth are in need of positive activities and mentorship.
"We believe in the integrity of the program," Faller said.
To find out more about KVIBE, click here.