Nicole’s journey with Hoʻōla Nā Pua began a little over a year ago when a conversation with Jessica Munoz sparked a passion for the organization’s work.
For Nicole Brodie sustainability is a way of life. During the day, she carries out her duties as Executive Director of Kanu Hawaii, a local sustainability and community engagement non-profit. In her off hours, she works toward sustaining Hawaii’s youth through her volunteer work as Hoʻōla Nā Pua’s Operations Coordinator.
With a professional background that includes board membership at the Hawaii Family Support Institute, Nicole was no stranger to the repercussions of child abuse. Realizing that victims of sex trafficking have limited options available to them—they are often funneled through the penal system, instead of being treated in adequate care facilities—she saw the necessity of Hoʻōla Nā Pua’s work.
Throughout her time with Hoʻōla Nā Pua, she has put her talents to work in various areas, finally coming to rest as the Operations Coordinator, where she helps to create the structure that will move the organization to the next phase of development. She points to using her technological expertise to help plan and manage fundraisers and streamline the organizations’ communications as examples of the various tasks that she takes on in this role.
With so much on her plate, Nicole admits that one of the hardest parts of being a volunteer is feeling like she doesn’t have enough time to contribute all that she desires to do. Nevertheless, she has found a home among equally hard working volunteers, many of whom inspire her with the hours and emotion that they invest into addressing sex trafficking. She says, “Even people who have been doing this for years still feel very deeply about it. It made me feel like I’m in the right place.”
In this environment that provides both challenges and community, Nicole has found that she is more capable that she previously thought, in both time and skill. She described a recent epiphany, saying, “I had a big aha moment at the last volunteer retreat. Basically, we were told, as core volunteers, to act as though we were getting paid to do this. All of those times where I was confused about something and shrugged it off as ‘I’m only a volunteer’—they just vanished. I don’t have that attitude anymore.”
Likewise, she advices new volunteers to take their commitment seriously, giving their best and taking initiative in whatever role they acquire.
By doing so, volunteers find themselves as ambassadors to the community, spreading awareness of the problem of sex trafficking and Hoʻōla Nā Pua’s response. Nicole points out, “People are curious; they want to know how they can help. I think that’s one of the cool things about being a volunteer: you show people it’s possible to help.”
Only by this type of grassroots effort can sustainable community engagement be developed. Like her work in many areas of her life, Nicole lives out this attitude of sustainability through leading by example, in this case demonstrating that impacting one’s community is a goal which each person can attain and pass on.
Written by Elisabeth Kurashige | Volunteer