Local nonprofit partners with “Five-0” to raise awareness
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Local nonprofit partners with “Five-0” to raise awareness

  • COURTESY HO’OLA NA PUA

    “Hawaii Five-0” star Alex O’Loughlin with Ho’ola Na Pua founders Aaron Schnobrich, left, and Jessica Munoz, right. Also pictured is Ho’ola Na Pua development director Jovanna Giannasio-Fern.

The producers and writers of “Hawaii Five-0” are no strangers to tackling issues bigger than just basic cops-and-robbers storylines.

In 2013, the show focused on Japanese-Americans who were interned on Oahu during World War II. An episode that aired in January featured a guest appearance by Bumpy Kanahele and brought the subject of Hawaiian sovereignty into living rooms around the country.

Ho‘ola Na Pua founder Jessica Munoz hopes “Five-0” will spark new conversations about child sex trafficking when tonight’s episode, “Puka ‘ana,” airs alongside a national public service announcement featuring series stars Alex O’Loughlin, Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park and Chi McBride.

Founded in 2010, Ho’ola Na Pua is a nonprofit that is “dedicated to the renewal of underaged sex trafficked girls through health, education, advocacy and reintegration,” according to marketing materials provided by the organization.

“One of the biggest barriers we face … is lack of awareness,” said Munoz, who noted Hawaii’s legislature only passed a law against sex trafficking last year. “(CBS wants) to bring the issue of child trafficking that happens in America, that happens here in Hawaii, to the forefront because these kids need our help. We’re talking about local kids from every single island.”

“Puka ‘ana” — which CBS describes as Hawaiian for “exodus” — features scenes shot at Dillingham Ranch that portray Ho‘ola Na Pua’s envisioned Pearl Haven residential treatment campus, which the nonprofit is currently raising funds for with hopes of opening in late 2018 to complement the organization’s current community education and prevention outreach efforts and at-risk youth mentorship program.

Munoz, Ho‘ola Na Pua co-founder Aaron Schnobrich and development director Jovanna Giannasio-Fern were invited to attend the episode filming as technical consultants.

“It’s a really unique opportunity for sure,” said Giannasio-Fern. “We needed this collective voice of successful Hollywood actors to say, ‘this is what sex trafficking looks like today, and it’s not pono.’”

The final version of the PSA will eventually be posted at hoolanapua.org; the website currently features a preview featuring “Five-0” star Grace Park and behind-the-scenes photos taken at Dillingham Ranch.

“Hawaii Five-0” airs at 8 p.m. tonight on CBS.

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