A few weeks ago, the David O. McKay Center joined forces with Ho’ola Na Pua in preparing their foundation for their new facility, “Pearl Haven.” Ho’ola Na Pua is a local organization that works to renew and heal members of child sex trafficking while also providing advocacy and education to people of our island communities about the signs of sex trafficking and what can be done if it is encountered. Pearl Haven will be a facility to house, school, and provide for 32 young girls who have fallen victim of child sex trafficking on our O’ahu island. There they will have a place to live, learn to cook, learn to garden, and other essential skills. They plan to have equestrian therapy and ways for the girls to exercise. The David O. McKay Center and students of BYUH represented over half of all of the volunteers! We had such great and willing volunteers, and the members of Ho’ola Na Pua were so grateful. Dianne says with tears forming in her eyes that “Ho’ola Na Pua would not be what it is without all of the gracious volunteers who have donated their time.”

Hannah Braswell, a student from BYUH says,

“I really felt like we were giving back to our community in such an important way and it was honestly the best and most rewarding thing I could have spent my Saturday morning doing.”

Students worked together with other volunteers to clear and prepare the landscape of the abandoned property by weed whacking, gathering up brush and knocking down trees. Other students worked on sorting roof tiles to restore the building’s roofing.

Sydney Edwards Froisland, a student from BYUH says,

“It felt like even though we were doing yard work, it felt like we were making a difference. The people seemed so genuine in their purpose to help.”

The David O. McKay Center works to carry out a large service project every semester. We were so happy to have so many of our students from the university participate in an event that was so uplifting and meaningful for our community and particularly, the victims of child sex trafficking on our island.

Alex Athans of BYUH says,

“The Ho’ola Na Pua service project was really meaningful to me because it allowed me to fulfill another vision. David O. McKay had one for the McKay Center and seeing the vision of this refuge for sexually trafficked girls felt like it wasn’t just cleaning. It made me feel that I was apart of something bigger. We literally cleaned what will shelter many scared, hurt, and emotionally damaged girls. I’m so grateful I got to serve such a small act for something so much bigger.”

Last week, Dianne, the volunteer coordinator of the organization visited our school to speak with students who are interested in volunteering with them. She relayed a few different ways that students can get involved! Serving with Ho’ola Na Pua would be a great way to fulfill an internship, a project for IPB 480, or to just contribute and nurture to the community in which you are living.

Ways to be involved:

They are looking for those that are willing to be a part of their Education Program.

“Education:

We conduct multi-sector, community, active engagement, educational training to increase awareness of sex trafficking. Our objective is to provide safeguards for vulnerable persons and foster an interactive, multi-disciplinary, anti-trafficking community through outreach to neighborhoods, prevention program in schools, first-responders, service providers, lawmakers, faith based communities, and the population at large.”

To be involved with their education program, you would have to go through a series of trainings. You first do a 6 hour long web based training to receive a certificate that is sent to Dianne. You then have a 3 hour training learning the material, an 8 hour training on learning to how to teach the material, and lastly a mandated reporter training. Once trained and qualified you work on getting access into schools to educate students on the material you learned and were trained in.

Another way to volunteer would be through their “Starfish Mentoring Program.”

“Hoʻōla Nā Pua’s Starfish Mentoring Program provides mentoring with health-centric, trauma-informed care and support that addresses the unique needs of survivors of sex trafficking and those at risk. Weekly meetings are activity-based and led by extensively trained mentors aged twenty-one or older. Mentors offer support and advocacy while serving as positive role models to program participants, ages 11-21, known as mentees. Advised by the Activities Coordinator, mentors carefully select activities that encourage forward-thinking, self-empowerment, and prosocial skills.

As a volunteer mentor, you can make a huge difference in the life and future of a young person in Hawaii. Minimum requirements include; age 21 or older, commitment to the program of at least one year, 24 hours of specialized training plus 6 hours of shadowing prior to mentoring, 2 hours per week of activity-based mentoring, 2 hours per month of ongoing mentor training, adherence to program guidelines and strict policies regarding mentee contact, and ability to pass all screening and background requirements, and reliable transportation.

HNP does not take the responsibility or the value of mentoring lightly and neither should you. If you think you have what it takes to be a Starfish mentor, we’d love to hear from you. Please send questions or comments to: starfish@hoolanapua.org.”

Lastly, they are looking for individuals who are particularly interested in event planning, fundraising, and grant writing. These are less lofty of commitments, but still a great way to get involved! They host various events as fundraisers, including a gala and golf tournament. If you’re interested in these areas, Dianne would be happy to work with you to find you some way to contribute to the organization!

So how to get involved?

  1. Go to Hoolanapua.org

  2. Read a little bit about them and their programs, if you’d like further information. Follow them on Instagram as well for live updates!

  3. Under the “Take Action” tab, hit “Volunteer.”

  4. Read the information that is on the left, and then fill out the form on the right.

  5. In the “Additional Comments” at the bottom fill in that you are a BYUH student and give some context as to ways that you’d like to be involved!

  6. Dianne will reach out to you to schedule a meeting to meet with you!

We hope to see many of our students involved with the great cause that Ho’ola Na Pua is carrying out!