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January 9, 2020

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Big Island Adventures!

Pacific Quest Young Adult students recently visited OK Farms in Hilo, where they assisted in transplanting Mamaki and coffee plants.  The historic OK Farms is over 1,000 acres and is home to amazing waterfalls and exotic fruit varieties. 

After lending a helping hand on the farm, students enjoyed lunch by a scenic waterfall and then returned to Reeds Bay to enjoy some time playing in the ocean!  The group launched kayaks and SUPs from the ice ponds and paddled around Hilo Bay, taking in the beautiful scenery!

Learn more about our Young Adult Program here!

August 2, 2018

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HIP Agriculture Receives Award from PQ Foundation

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 recently awarded a grant to the HIP Agriculture High School Mentorship and Apprenticeship Program.  We had the opportunity to interview Dash Kuhr, the Executive Director and Lead Educator at HIP Agriculture to learn more about this incredible program and how they are influencing the Big Island community.

Can you tell me a little about HIP’s background info and how it got started?

We have two locations in Kapaau (northern part of the Big Island) the Halawa Campus which serves as  the headquarters of HIP Agriculture and includes staff housing, classroom, office, design studio, and library as well as student kitchen, outdoor showers, community stage and outdoor classroom.  We also have the ʻIole Garden, which is the main pacific-style agroforestry garden, where students have the opportunity to study a more traditional indigenous system of agriculture.

HIP was founded in Spring 2011 and has been growing since!  We now have a team of eight adults we can financially support and a seasonal 6 week internship program.  The foundation of our program is based on the 3 pillars:

Youth education

Farmer training

Community outreach

HIP Agriculture is “Committed to educating and empowering the next generation of young farmers, The Hawai’i Institute of Pacific Agriculture offers a variety of programs designed to engage Hawai’i’s youth in sustainable agriculture, land stewardship, and healthy lifestyles.”

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

We serve about 1,000 students, offering field trips, after school programs and in-class presentations. We work with Kohala elementary school, as well as middle school and high school students from Honokaa, Waimea, and Waikoloa.  For the elementary and middle school students, we bring workshops and activities to supplement their science curriculum – compost and micro-organisms, pollinators and beekeeping, nutrition and cooking from the garden, and native Hawaiian plants – identification and their uses.

Middle school students have classes on plant propagation, traditional lashing, seed saving and mycology.  High school students have classes in advanced plant propagation, ecosystem dynamics, advanced beekeeping and advanced mycology.

Our high school mentorship and apprenticeship program has 23 students.  The students assist in preparing and planting the fields, laying out irrigation, fertilizing and maintenance. They learn a variety of hands on skills – including compost, harvesting protocol, fertilizer management, soil testing, ph testing, soil work, observation, and recording notes and data.  We have an apprenticeship program over the summer which provides a paid educational stipend.

Future goals of HIP and how can people help?

Our goal is to create a hui network of farmers to supply food to the local cafeterias.  We are also honing our curriculum so this program can be utilized in other locations. In addition, we host volunteer days and always need help!  We will have the Kohala Aina Festival in October and special events including Farm to Table and Full Moon gatherings.

July 27, 2018

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Ultramarathon Fundraiser: Helping Hawaii

Mark Agosto and Mike Sullivan

Many of you continue to reach out and share your concern about the people of Hawaii being affected by the Kilauea volcano eruption.  While Pacific Quest is far from danger and unaffected by the volcano, our wonderful community in the Puna District have lost their homes and been displaced (the total number of homes consumed by lava exceeds 600!).  Relief efforts are in full effect, and we want to help!

Alumni and Family Services Director Mike Sullivan, and Co-Executive Director Mark Agosto are racing a 120 mile ultramarathon in August, and have dedicated their training efforts and racing prowess to help the people of Hawaii.  They have created the fundraiser: Helping Hawaii, and can be accessed by clicking the following link: Ultramarathon Fundraiser: Helping Hawaii.

“Racing for a cause” gives meaning to training and racing, and as Mike and Mark have witnessed the devastation happening in Puna, they became passionate about creating a fundraising goal.  Please consider visiting their fundraiser page to read more about their ultramarathon endeavor or to donate.  And be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram from August 14-19, as they will be posting photos and stories from the six day race course (yes, that is six days of running through the Colorado mountains)!

July 8, 2018

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Pacific Quest Foundation Helps With Disaster Relief in Puna

As we are sure you are all now aware, there are many families who have been displaced by the current lava flow in the Puna district of Hawai’i. While this area of the island is well removed from Pacific Quest programs, PQ and The Foundation are committed to stewarding a healthy island community.

Building project in Puna

At Pacific Quest we teach that the foundation of any healthy community or family system is safe shelter and healthy food.  We recently held a campaign where 100% of donations made to The Pacific Quest Foundation went to disaster relief for the residents affected by the volcanic activity.

Thanks to many generous donations we have been able to donate $11,000 to the continuing efforts to rehouse families and individuals displaced by lava!

These projects include building longer term shelter options that will house families out of tents and out of the rain while the state and federal governments continue to work on relief and long term housing and community development plans.

Additionally, these funds will help reunite evacuees with family members who can house them, where travel costs have been prohibitive.

Now we are working on the project of getting children back to school.

There are many school children and teachers who have been displaced by the lava and in some cases have lost everything. The loss of houses is now over 700.  One school has lost all access to their facilities, while another is looking to address the mental health issues and trauma that is effecting the school population directly and indirectly in the shadow of this event.

Current fundraising will go to rental assistance to ensure the first school is housed for the year, as well as to developing and sustaining additional therapeutic services in the other.

We have already raised over $4000 through a peer to peer campaign and sponsorship for a long distance run our Executive Director and Alumni and Family Service Director will be completing in August.

If you missed our first campaign or would like to make an additional donation to this cause, we thank you!

July 1, 2018

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The Green Will Conservancy Receives Award from Pacific Quest Foundation

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)!

January 19, 2018

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Sandalwood Restoration Project on the Slopes of Mauna Kea

A  group of Young Adult students recently had the opportunity to assist with a Sandalwood Restoration project on the slopes of Mauna Kea.  After departing Reeds Bay, the group took a scenic drive to meet the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park rangers at the restoration site.  The rangers explained the importance of this project and the need to plant native Sandalwood to regenerate the forest and help maintain the root system of this region.

Students were given instructions and tools and worked alongside the rangers, digging holes and planting “keiki” sandalwood trees.  It was important to find a moist area in the soil, dig a small hole and then plug in the baby plant. Finding a nice, water-fed area was essential to ensure the small plants will grow.

Planting baby Sandalwood trees on slopes of Mauna Kea

A few of the students were a bit apprehensive at first, as this was a new project – but the rangers were patient and compassionate and able to help students to provide extra support to the group.  Before long, students were excited to get their hands dirty and help out!  It was a beautiful day and from the higher elevation, the group had a an incredible view of Haleakala – the volcano on Maui as well as the Kohala mountains and Mauna Loa. At this higher elevation there were a variety of different flowers, including the Hawaiian Rose, which provided insight into how diverse the Big Island landscape is.

Pacific Quest is committed to community stewardship and the ability to “give back”.  We believe empowering young adults to be active participants in community service promotes positive and meaningful engagement in society.  This is an ongoing project and Pacific Quest students will continue to offer support on a monthly basis towards rebuilding this ecosystem.

The Pacific Quest Foundation also provides financial support to the Sandalwood Reforestation project. Grants such as these are made possible by the generous donations of Pacific Quest and Pacific Quest Foundation families, friends and supporters.

September 22, 2017

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Spreading Aloha to Victims of Hurricane Harvey

By: Kellyn Smythe, Admissions & Outreach Manager

This week Pacific Quest’s Executive Director Mark Agosto and I traveled to Houston to share the aloha spirit with victims of Hurricane Harvey.  With support from the team at Academic Answers, needs like diapers, mattresses, food, refrigerators, clothing, bedding, and a full set of new kitchen appliances were identified and fulfilled.  However, in a whirlwind of shopping, moving, organizing, and delivering, it became clear that the Aloha Spirit was already there.  This community has rallied to support each other in the face of a devastating natural disaster.  In the wake of gutted homes, flooded cars, and soggy photo-albums, a sea of smiles and busy hands are wringing out the dampness and putting lives back together.  The task ahead is daunting, but the seeds of recovery are being sown in the gulf. PQ is honored to be a part of that effort and plant a few seeds or our own.

 

August 31, 2017

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PQ Announces New Video Library!

By: Sharon Findlay, Admissions & Communication Manager

Pacific Quest is excited to announce our new Video Library for parents, students, and referring professionals! Viewers can easily filter the videos by category and featured staff member. Categories include: Advice for parents, Common Questions, Medical + Wellness Questions, Therapeutic Approach, and Why Pacific Quest. Parents can get to know our team from afar and hear their personal and professional perspectives on what makes Pacific Quest the special and healing place that it is.

With this new video library and new content, we worked hard to anticipate the needs of parents considering Pacific Quest for their child. Videos like “Being so far away, how effective is Pacific Quest at reconnecting the family system?” and “Gardening seems a little soft. How effective can it be?” are just two examples real questions we’ve received. This video library gives parents the opportunity to get candid answers from multiple team members.

The videos provide new and engaging content, as well as informative visuals for what Pacific Quest looks and feels like. Parents are able to see the many areas of campus from these videos. These resources are accessible to parents and professionals at whatever time of day is most convenient for them to learn more about Pacific Quest and get specific questions answered.

June 9, 2017

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Pacific Quest to Donate a Portion of Profits to PQ Foundation

We are pleased to announce that Pacific Quest will now be donating a minimum of 1% of our profits annually to the Pacific Quest Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity whose mission is to support the Hawaii County community and its existing non-profit organizations.

Pacific Quest was founded in 2004 and over the years we have developed relationships with more than 60 different local non-profit organizations through donations from our company, its employees and its clients. With the generous support and donations from alumni, families, community members and businesses, we are excited to continue our tradition of stewardship within the Big Island community.Pacific Quest Announces Formation of Pacific Quest Foundation

Martha Bouchard, PQ Foundation Director, reflected on this decision to donate profits to the foundation, “It is essential to our mission to both be sustainable and in right relationship with the community in which we work and in which Pacific Quest has built such life changing programming for students. This has to go beyond the community service that our staff and students do. For us, being able to increase our capacity to give back to the island by helping to fund organizations that are the heart and soul of our local communities is a direct reflection of that commitment.” Donations to the foundation help to fund the organizations that sustain our island’s diverse communities, which benefit both residents and visitors alike.

Pacific Quest Foundation will begin accepting applications in Fall 2017. Requests will be considered from Hawaii Island based non-profit organizations in four general categories, including:

  • community or public service
  • environmental issues
  • health and education
  • youth and senior citizens

For more information on how to help support the Pacific Quest Foundation, please visit:

http://pqfoundation.org/donate-now/

May 17, 2017

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How does living near a volcano fit into Recovery?

By: Mark White, LPC – CDC II
Primary Therapist

Kuleana – Hawaiian for ‘personal responsibility’

Kuleana is also the name of the second phase of the Pacific Quest (PQ) Young Adult Program. This powerful experience challenges students to dig deep and take charge of their individual (and group) process each and every day. The Kuleana Camp is located not far from the slopes of a volcano near the southernmost point in the United States – meaning that there are few external distractions for students access – except the resources within themselves.

Mark White therapist photo

Mark White, Primary Therapist

Having worked in the field of addiction treatment for many years, I understand that internal motivation for change is needed for students to implement and sustain lifestyle change(s) over time. Moreover to really provide the best opportunity for these changes to ‘take root’ is for the student to develop strong ownership and/or personal investment in the change(s) they are committing to.

This is a different dynamic than simply telling the therapist what the student thinks we want to hear, or coming up with a great story to tell mom and dad. Kuleana demands student investment in the form of action. Simply put, if the garden isn’t tended it will die – there’s no running over to Home Depot to grab some more plants. Talking about taking responsibility is simply not enough. Success of the community is 100% dependent on student actions in this phase.

In turn our treatment team has the opportunity to challenge students to contemplate how to take Kuleana for their own Recovery, as this process is also 100% dependent on themselves. For we know that time passes quickly and soon enough students will no longer be living by the sea near a volcano. They will be at school, at work, with family or adventuring alone in life. As a licensed professional counselor and certified chemical dependency counselor who’s worked with hundreds of youth in treatment since 1999, I’ve very aware that I won’t be around to help them with their choices in-the-moment. I also know that mom and dad won’t be able to make choices for them either.

That being said, the good news is that PQ students can have Kuleana and are able to harvest this powerful resource at anytime/anyplace to choose to further their Recovery. Once they’ve found this power within themselves no one can take it away – it is truly the fertile soil for lasting life change.

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