Who We Are
The mission of Root & Rise Hawaiʻi is to cultivate social and emotional wellness through integrative and therapeutic mental health programs accessible to underserved populations.
Our programs create a sense of belonging and competency, engage creativity, foster connection to nature, teach life skills, provide psychoeducation, and facilitate integration into the community.
We are a federally-recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Our greater vision is a safe space and equitable opportunity for individuals, community, and ‘āina to grow and thrive in unison.
We place particular importance on the inclusivity of those who are marginalized, underserved, and who otherwise have limited access to alternative healing opportunities like our programs. We help people overcome barriers such as financial strain, limited emotional support, and physical constraints to provide ease and opportunity for program participation.
The foundation and prerequisite for any type of healing is safety. Only once a person has gained a sense of physical, emotional, and social security, then can the healing process begin. We strive to create safe space within the physical setting and group dynamic so participants can engage in meaningful work and impactful practices.
Growth and adaptability
No matter how much we know or what type of experience we have had, there is always room (and often a need) to grow and evolve. We value participant feedback, listen for community voices, and commit to looking honestly at ourselves in the mirror, even if it's easier to look away. Through this commitment, we are able to better serve our community and ‘āina.
Freedom and empowerment
We recognize the vitally healing aspect of feeling supported, encouraged, and liberated. By creating space to self-express, be vulnerable, and be validated, people can embrace their authentic, unrestricted selves and contribute to society as such, lending to positive societal impact. We develop and deliver our programs with the guiding question, “What will make people feel most capable, inspired, and free?”
We recognize the unique ecosystem and culture of Hawaiʻi, and acknowledge the inherent privilege and kuleana (responsibility) of living and working with ‘āina. Sustainable practices that enhance and raise awareness about our environment are embedded into our programs and products. Though our work is local, we model how small scale efforts contribute to a healthier, harmonious Earth and peoples.
photo by Ronit Fahl
Aliza McKeigue Gebin
Aliza has a passion for developing and facilitating programs that address mental health through a creative and whole-person lens, using ʻāina and community as a source of inspiration. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Connecticut College and a Certificate in Horticultural Therapy from AHTA-accredited Chicago Botanic Garden. Aliza has over a decade of experience in non-profit adult mental health, the Hawaiʻi public school system, and in child and family services.
From her role as a case manager for adults with mental illness in Massachusetts to an art teacher for keiki in South Kona to a group facilitator for families in Kaʻū, Aliza has always incorporated the power of nature, expression, connection, and mental health destigmatization into her work. She draws upon her belief in these ideas to co-create accessible, meaningful social services for underserved and marginalized communities through her work with Root & Rise.
Born and raised in Massachusetts and forever at home in the forest, Aliza has lived in South Kona since 2015. She is trained in Mental Health First Aid and safeTALK (Suicide Alertness).
As a co-visionary in reimagining mental health services, Mona has been a steadfast supporter, contributor, and invaluable asset to Root & Rise. Mona, who has lived Kona, Hawaiʻi for over 2 decades, began her professional experience in adult mental health in 1992 in Seattle, and has since worked in Kona as Residential Assistant for Mental Health Kokua and Crisis Mobile Outreach, Short Term Case Manager, Intensive Case Manager, and Mental Health Therapist for CARE Hawaiʻi. Through this work, Mona empowers adults with mental illness to gain/regain stability, cultivate independence, and engage in activities that help them not only survive, but thrive within the community.
Aside from her lengthy and varied work in social services, Mona has also owned and managed a successful catering business, Mon Ami Catering, for 20 years.
Mona holds a bachelor's degree from Eastern Illinois University in Communications Theory and Practice (Interpersonal) and minored in Women's Studies, Psychology of Women, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.