Hale ‘Opio Kaua‘i partnering with TrustCircle

LIHU‘E — A private, nonprofit, was approved for a Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act grant. The organization’s goal is to utilize artificial intelligence-driven Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) programs on prevention and early intervention to improve mental health and wellbeing for all impacted by COVID-19.

Hale ‘Opio Kaua‘i (HOK), incorporated in 1975, was awarded $250,000 by the county to offer mental health wellbeing, domestic violence prevention, and suicide prevention by partnering up with TrustCircle.

All funds have to be used before the end of the calendar year.

“(We) are very excited to partner with TrustCircle to provide Kaua‘i with this unique SEL Platform to promote wellbeing,” said Hale ‘Opio’s Executive Director, Vonnell Ramos. “We recently finalized Hale ‘Opio Kaua‘i’s platform, hok.trustcircle.co, which we will be promoted to the Kaua‘i community and even statewide. We hope to provide at least eight Kaua‘i organizations their own designed platform for their consumers.”

Ramos said the group’s mission is dedicated to improving young people’s quality of life, enhancing a sense of belonging, increasing self-awareness, and strengthening Ohana by providing residential and community programs for education, prevention, court diversion, and treatment.

According to Ramos, Hale ‘Opio offers over 20 programs to 500 youth annually to achieve its mission.

Hale ‘Opio said they have been serving the youth of Hawai‘i by teaming up with Catholic Services to Families and The Institute for Family Enrichment, both Oahu agencies, to assist them in developing and implementing a Therapeutic Foster Home Program and Home-Based Services on Kaua‘i.

Ramos said in 1997, Hale ‘Opio partnered up with the Department of Education and created a mental health services system for children and adolescents by developing an urgency response system of safe-beds in foster home settings for youth who have been assessed to be in a stressful traumatic situation, which requires immediate intervention but not hospitalization.

“HOK currently has four licensed homes, two homes licensed with the capacity for three to four youth, two home licensed with the capacity for five youth, if clinically appropriate,” said Ramos. “HOK provides intensive in-home treatment services and intensive independent living program services.”

According to Ramos, Trust Circle work is researched-backed, evidenced-based, globally acclaimed and endorsed by the WHO Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Research that is already serving our community on Kauai Island.

Ramos added “(It’s) also supported by the Kauai Fatherhood Council, the Kauai Planning Action & Alliance, the Kanuikapono Charter School, and also by the leaders and council members across Kauai.”

The Board of Directors includes President: Curtis Law, Vice-president: Orriana Skomoroch, Treasurer: Thomas Lodico, Secretary: Randall Hee, Directors: Dr. Addison Bulosan, Dr. Lee Evslin, Dr. Geri Young, Gregory Meyers, Wanda Shibata, and Judge William Fernandez.

HOK’s other staff includes Controller: Justin Maronn, Community Programs Director: Priti Tayal, and Youth Empowerment Specialist: Mary Ann Ornellas.

Ramos confirmed and said Ornellas has been a prevention educator for over seven-plus years.

HOK depends on federal, state, public, and private grants to support program initiatives, and its target population consists of at-risk children, youth, young adults up to age 26, and family units.

Ramos said Native Hawaiian children, youth and families are also prioritized in support.

“Clearly our 40-year history on Kaua‘i has proven that whatever the opportunities, whatever the risks, we have been willing to take a lead, seek new partners, and have taken risks, and have taken risks in the development of a continuum of services; a continuum that demonstrates our commitment to our constituency and to our community,” said Ramos.

For more info: (808) 245-2873


Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.


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