HIR, which stands for Healing Intergenerational Roots, Wellness Institute, or HIRWI, is a non-profit organization that provides free advocacy and wellness services to Indigenous and undeserved communities. We are based in the Greater Milwaukee area. Our services are intergenerational as we support children, youth, adults, and our elders with mental health counseling and wellness programming like support groups, workshops, and Community Activated Medicine (CAM) events.
The HIRWI mission requires a community collective. Without the mind, body, heart, and spirit of our community members, programming at HIRWI would not be possible. Lea Denny, Founder and CEO, grew this non-profit in 2017 with the vision to open a center that will honor the voice of the community, and the legacy and strength of their ancestors' stories. From this it grew into an institute of learning and clinic that is rooted in social-justice.
HIRWI sets out to be part of the next generation of providers, healers, leaders, and therapists that address systemic issues impacting mental health such as domestic violence, human trafficking, violence, suicide, historical and racial trauma within the healing work that we do. Through this process, HIRWI aims to decolonize mental health practices by inviting our relatives to integrate their cultural practices and teachings into the healing process.
We use a model developed by Lea Denny called Community Activated Medicine, or CAM. These events address community-felt and lived mental health concerns and create space for community-focused healing. CAM events mean the people are the medicine and community action is the agent of change. We take our therapists and counseling interns outside the office and into the community where they can meet the immediate needs of our community members. To make this happen, we partner with tribal agencies, local organizations, and training institutions to acquire our interns and volunteers.
A Note from our CEO & Founder, Lea Denny:
In this time of unpredictability and worry for many, I am earnestly aware of the preventative daily changes being recommended to keep our communities safe. I am following the actions and steps of our "Safer at Home" orders, listening to our community partners, CDC, and the World Health Organization as they respond thoughtfully to this pandemic.
My goal continues to be the promotion of well-being for those who need it most. Now more than ever those who are experiencing domestic violence or in abusive homes are far from safe and they are living in daily fear. My team is checking in with our relatives (community members) routinely. Our services have not and will not be disrupted. I remain committed to identifying ways to adapt to the change necessary to safely support those in need.
This was swift and intentional, as my team transitioned to providing virtual outreach, Telemental health and advocacy services that are culturally responsive and healing informed while we weather this storm. It included expanding our phone lines, increasing our presence on social media, and activating our advocates to serve relatives through virtual platforms. Since implementing our remote work on March 19th we have had over 500+ calls, over 160+ virtual sessions provided, and over 60+ care packages have been delivered out
to our relatives.
As we embark on these uncharted waters, I am recognizing the "new normal" and the urgency to feel "okay" again. This will take time and we will learn innovative ways to move forward together. I am proud and inspired by my team of counselors and staff that leaned into this unknown with heart and readiness to serve victims of crime by any means possible. As our world begins to deal and heal with the impact of this global pandemic we need to stay socially connected, check in with one another, and channel the healing power of our collective community care!
With good minds, spirit, and health,
Lea S. Denny, MS, LPC, NCC, NMT
CEO & Founder of HIR Wellness Institute
We thank you for your support!
The HIR Wellness Team