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July 1, 2018

Pacific Quest Foundation helps to steward a healthy island community by contributing to existing 501(c)(3) organizations on Hawai’i. Over the years since our founding, Pacific Quest has developed relationships with over 60 local non-profit organizations through donations from our company, employees and clients. The PQ Foundation was created to continue this tradition of stewardship.

The Pacific Quest Foundation has awarded a grant to the Green Will Conservancy that will help to ensure their summer youth trip is a success.

We recently had the opportunity to interview Laura Dvorak, who is an MSW student and the Outreach & Fundraising Coordinator for the Green Will Conservancy to learn more about this incredible program and how they are influencing the Big Island community.

Can you tell me about the Green Will Conservancy’s background founding?

Green Will is the legacy project of four Hawaii island based social workers and was first envisioned 10 years ago.  Frank Capatch, LCSW is the Program Director.

GWC’s Friendship House and Lava Tree Lodge are based upon the Social Work Settlement House traditions.

Friendship House hosts the hands-on Green Will Conservancy Programs for youth and families and meetings to address cross-training, peer review, and “train the trainer” learning community needs.

The Professional Settlement House community has maintained a core of full time residents averaging four to five non-related social work professional members. They share the same community organizational interest along with an ongoing coterie of interns and visiting professionals, small group conference attendees and onsite researchers.

Both Lava Tree Lodge and The Zoar Valley Sanctuary locations have been actively engaged in support of restoration of indigenous peoples rights and culture. We support a wide range of human service/social work activities. We also do work to preserve and enhance the flora and fauna of both locations and implement invasive species management.  Special focus has been on aesthetics and preservation of the physical natural environment in both locations. Architecture and construction has been sensitive to ensure least destructive impact on environment.

Lava Tree Lodge Hawaii retreat consists of approximately ten acres located in the Puna rainforest of rural Hawaii. The retreat preserves both a high degree of native plant and animal life. At least 50% of the property has been sustained in a natural rainforest state. The remaining area of the property is planted with a large diversity of native and non-native plants, tropical fruit trees, shrubs and vines and landscaped with vegetable and meditation gardens.

What are some of the projects and programs the Green Will Conservancy is currently working on?  How many students do you all work with? 

Hui Mana’o is the pre-vocational teen leadership program of The Green Will Conservancy. We meet every Sunday for four hours and have attendance of five to eight teenage students on any given week. The focus is on exercise, gardening, technological skills, expressive arts, culinary skills, cultivation of emotional intelligence, and substance abuse prevention. Youth who qualify are also welcome to support our Saturday keiki program by providing role modeling for the younger children, and gain valuable leadership experience. All programs are supervised by licensed mental health professionals. Teens are offered a nominal stipend to attend the Sunday group and also to support the keiki (children’s) program on Saturdays.

GWC facilitates EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) training of mental health professionals, including therapists from private programs and school-based counselors from the Hawaii Department of Education. This program seeks to target individuals and families of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, focuses a special emphasis on those who are at risk of environmental, economic and social marginalization. We will provide international level continuing education for the community professionals who provide health, educational and mental health services to them.

GWC also manages an online professional institute, which supports global awareness of our program models and resources and seeks to inspire replication and innovation. (http://thegreenwill.org/category/inst/).  Our design and implementation reflects a generalizable demonstration program based on onsite/ online learning systems, community organization, ecological system models and neurologically based trauma informed/capable care approaches.

The Green Will Conservancy reflects models for replication and the summer teen program is no exception. Public policy makers will naturally replicate these small-scale models as they demonstrate their utility and as the awareness of the impacts of non-sustainable practices become more evident. Education, mental health and social work systems are adapting new neurologically based, social-ecological treatment models that are addressing the trauma and resiliency needs of the 21st century.

What is the Green Will Conservancy’s 2018 Summer Youth Program and what impact does this program have on the youth?

Our summer program takes up to 5 youth to our summer camp in the Zoar Valley Sanctuary in Western New York state for up to two weeks with program mentors for a rite of passage experience using EMDR and environmental therapy.  Selected youth from Polynesia are matched with youth from the Iroquois Nation, inner city Buffalo NY, and NE Ohio. Under LCSW and Qualified Mentors support, our “Kupuna” elders are selected from all those locations and from Hawaii and offer moral leadership, augment programming and provide direct support.

Future goals of Green Will Conservancy and how can people help?

The Puna region of Hawai’i Island is facing unprecedented ecological, social and economic upheaval as continuous eruptions from one of the world’s most active volcanoes (Kīlauea) are forcing thousands of residents to evacuate.

One of the only non-profit mental health agencies in the immediate area is The Green Will Conservancy, Inc. GWC is a 501(c)3 charitable, educational organization based in Nanawale Estates, which is closely neighboring Leilani Estates, Lanipuna Gardens and Kapoho, where to date, several hundred acres of land has been covered by lava (and hundreds more scorched by heat and gases).

The mental health practitioners within GWC specialize in trauma-capable and critical incident care such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).  GWC is navigating the innumerable changes their agency faces with many clients (most of whom are Medicaid recipients) now dislocated and uncertain of their futures, immediate or otherwise. Psychotherapists from the agency are currently working in shelters treating evacuees, many of whom have lost everything. The agency held strong in the face of previous years’ events, and is continuing to do so in the face of this current eruption.

If you would like to contribute, your donation will grow the capacity of this generous group of trained therapists and interns, to join the network of those providing counseling and other mental health services to affected residents and first responders in these very trying times. There is a wider community of trained EMDR therapists on the island as well, who are available to step in as local resources are exhausted.

Our goal is to be able to provide short and long term psychotherapy to those who need it, free of charge and regardless of insurance status or proof of it (which can be challenging when living moment to moment in a shelter).

$10,000 will provide over 200 people in shelters with critical incident professional psychotherapy, and allow the Green Will Conservancy to operate their weekly keiki and teen programming.  youcaring.com/mentalhealth4puna

Mahalo (appreciation) for your kōkua (support)!