Saturday | April 18, 2015
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Website is forum for aloha spirit

Jackie Rey’s Ohana Grill in Kailua-Kona will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. Instead of throwing a party, owners Angela Rey and Paul Streiter decided to make a gesture that would be deeper and longer-lasting.

The result is a new website, MalamaAloha.org, a platform to recognize the projects and stories that highlight the best of the altruistic spirit.

“It’s a conduit for people who want to get involved,” Streiter said. “The community has been really good to us and we felt this was a way to make a difference.”

Community organizations and individuals can use the website to submit information for a list of upcoming events that benefit the community or a nonprofit organization. They can follow up with information and photos or videos about how the events unfolded and access a page called “Random Acts of Aloha” to share personal stories of kindness.

The latter page includes entries about the outpouring of support for Puna victims of Tropical Storm Iselle, a story about a wallet being returned to its owner and a short tale about a person whose life was transformed as he watched someone help an elderly woman out of a van.

The section titled “Aloha in Action” featured a story about a slipper drive for school children, a project by the Rotary Club of Kona Sunrise to provide ramps and other access for those in need, and links to Stephens Media Hawaii articles. Streiter expects the offerings to expand in the future as the site catches on and visitors are able to nominate projects to appear on the page.

“It can be anything as long as it was a positive thing and a way to feel good about the community,” he said.

The homepage features a comical YouTube video of a young man who explains the site in pidgin. Rey and Streiter spent about six months trying different ideas with webmaster Richard Farnham, who worked for free on the site.

Without ramming the site down people’s throats, Streiter said he has tried to spread the word, and the restaurant has given away hundreds of free MalamaAloha bumper stickers.

The website is not geared toward the restaurant and no commercial activities are allowed to be posted there, Streiter said. Updated weekly, MalamaAloha has had more than 1,200 hits so far.

Streiter hopes more nonprofits discover the free avenue for putting their information out to the public.

“We’re hoping it slowly spreads and just becomes a part of the fabric of Kona,” Streiter said.

Email Bret Yager at byager@westhawaiitoday.com.

 

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