20 for the Next 20: Jessica Munoz – Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii 2021-02-22 09:39:43 –

Jessica Munoz

Hoʻōla NāPua President and Founder
Nurse Practitioner, US Acute Care Solution

Fifteen years ago, Nursing took Jessica Munoz from California to Hawaii, where she planned to do a short stint and a lot of surfing. However, her work as a trauma nurse at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children persuaded her to stay.

Munoz says he saw signs of sex trafficking and exploitation among young patients, but little awareness of the problem from his colleagues. She refused to look away and instead launched a campaign to eradicate abuse and bring hope to the victims.

“When I first started this job, young people were often mislabeled as delinquents, runaways, or substance users, but the central problem was that they were sexually exploited. It was, “she says. Vulnerable adolescents are forced or deceived by sex work by their families and “boyfriends,” she explains, and it happens across the island and the socio-economic spectrum.

She started Ho’ōla Nā Pua Founded in 2013, the non-profit now employs 12 full-time staff and supports hundreds of young people each year. School support activities, training for healthcare and social welfare organizations, police assistance in victim protection, 24-hour helpline operations, youth collaboration in shelters and juvenile centers, mentoring and advocacy programs I am doing.

In recent years, Munos has led the most ambitious project to date. Pearl HavenA 20,000-square-foot facility in the countryside of Oahu.

“One of the big gaps in the continuum of care was the home care program,” says Munoz. “These young people suffer from complex trauma, so recovery times are different.” When the facility opens in 2021, girls aged 11 to 18 will receive the long-term treatment services they need, she said. say.

“If someone can do that, Jessica can do it,” says Mel Jackson, a philanthropist at the Gilber Family Foundation and a member of the Pearl Haven Capital Campaign Committee. By the end of 2020, the campaign had reached its $ 9 million funding target and construction workers had nearly completed the restoration of previously abandoned assets.

“We believe it will be a national model,” says Jackson. “Jessica is very familiar with this issue and is relentless, optimistic and persuasive.”

Munoz, who is still working part-time as a nurse practitioner, said: “I have a gene of justice in my DNA, which drives me. I’m also a somewhat destructive leader. If I find that the status quo isn’t working, I’ll make changes. Don’t be afraid to say you need it. If you feel uncomfortable, help us lead the change. “

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