“The Salvation Army saved me with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-10-31-52-amKenneth Yoshikawa shared his story with more than 30 CEOs, business and community leaders at our inaugural The Salvation Army CEO Sleepout at the Hawaii State Capitol Rotunda in September. Here is a condensed version of his path to The Salvation Army.

My name is Kenneth and this is how The Salvation Army saved me with the answered prayer of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and led me to The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Iwilei.

My life was pretty normal until age 14 when my mother walked out on our family and my father turned to alcohol. I had to become the “man of the house,” working long hours throughout my high school days to take care of my family’s bills. After graduation, I worked two jobs while attending UH West Oahu as a full-time student. Before long it seemed I had it all. I bought a townhouse and a car. Life was good until friends introduced me to cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol. I finally felt relaxed and stress-free. Then came the painkillers. Soon, my $100-a- day habit was $600-a-day. I lost my jobs, my home, my car, and my family. Then, living homeless and hungry, I lost all hope.

It was during this time as a homeless man on the streets of Honolulu, I pulled out a Bible I carried and it fell open to this verse in James, “You do not have, because you do not ask.” Starving, I jokingly said, “Okay, God, if you’re real give me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” Just 45 minutes later it appeared. A young woman walked up and offered me a PB&J sandwich, a prayer, and information about the ARC. God was reaching out to me through this prayer and a sandwich and I knew I had to seek help with the ARC in Iwilei. They immediately took me in, gave me a hearty meal, and lots of love.

The structured program was strict, but The Salvation Army Officers and staff genuinely cared for those of us in the program. I graduated in six months, became a dispatcher for the thrift store, and began attending worship services at The Salvation Army Kauluwela Corps near Chinatown. One Sunday after worship, a group of young people started making dozens of PB&Js to hand out to the homeless. I was blown away because it was that sandwich, prayer, and information about ARC that saved me.

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With my life back on track, I am now the Residential Manager of the ARC. I take our clients to our Kauluwela Corps to show them how they can also do great things for others after they graduate. They might just turn around and save someone else one day. I am here today, clean and sober, with a stable job, and a group of friends who hold me responsible all because of The Salvation Army’s outreach program.

“My prayers were answered.”

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“I was struggling for a while. I had to ask for help and The Salvation Army Family Services Office answered my prayers.”

46-year-old Isabella G. is a single mother of two boys. They live in a small apartment in Waialua, where Isabella runs her own cleaning business for the bed and breakfasts on the North Shore. “Being a business owner, I didn’t think that I would be in the position to need anyone’s help. I prided myself on being able to take care of my boys and paying our bills,” she said.

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Isabella and her sons a few years ago.

Just a year ago, Isabella started to feel a stabbing pain in her back. “My doctor said I had to rest and take medication to relieve the pain. I couldn’t work and I fell behind on my rent, so we had to move. We moved to six places in the last year and were homeless for two months. I was a mess,” said Isabella. She broke down and asked her landlord for help. He suggested that she contact The Salvation Army Family Services Office, which helps families in need with rental assistance, food, and a connection to resources. Isabella called and was able to get a rent check in less than a week. “I’m so thankful. Not being able to work because of my back had set us back so much. The Salvation Army is a blessing to single moms like me.”

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Isabella and The Salvation Army FSO staff. From left to right – Victor Cordero, Isabella G., and Ipo Paia.

Today Isabella is much better thanks to lots of rest and help from The Salvation Army. “I’m in a good place and my boys are happy. My son, who is 17, has found a part-time job to help out until I fully recover from my back condition. Thank you for all that you’ve done to help me and my family.”

Visit fso.salvationarmy.org to learn more about our services and programs.

“I had no hope.”

By Brandi Salas

daniel2“There was a time where I was homeless and I didn’t have anywhere to go in the end,” said Daniel A., a graduate of The Salvation Army Addiction Treatment Services (ATS). “No one wanted me around, I burned all my bridges. I had nothing, I had no hope.”

46-year-old Daniel A. struggled with an addiction to drugs and alcohol for 20 years and realized he needed to change. He had attempted to rehabilitate his addiction in 1995, but failed. Three years ago, he decided he was going to change for good and walked into ATS with an open mind and a willingness to become independent and self sufficient.

“He really wanted to get this time right. I helped him understand when his addiction would come into play and when it was clouding his judgment. He then started to focus on what life he wanted for himself,” said ATS Outpatient Supervisor, Anne Toyofuku. “She showed me when to recognize when a thought was healthy or not for me. That played a big role in when it was time for me to get my first job again,” said Daniel. He soon heard of a job opportunity at Brett Hill Construction and was offered the job on the spot.screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-9-13-38-am

“I was ready to do whatever it took to become a good person, have a stable job, and become a great dad. My counselors at The Salvation Army ATS helped me do that and more,” said Daniel. “I now work for a great company that shows the same compassion as The Salvation Army. I’m helping others through my new job and that is empowering.”

“I’m able to live life honestly because of The Salvation Army. They were able to take someone who was down and out like me, out on the street with nothing and nobody. They gave me the tools to become a productive member of society. I pay my bills today, I have a license, I have a job, I have a car, and I pay my taxes,” said Daniel.

Daniel thanks supporters like you for providing hope and resources to those in need in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. “If one person’s generosity helped save one person, that person can turn around and help another. We need to continue that positive cycle of support in the community.”

Click here to learn more about The Salvation Army Addiction Treatment Services.

New hobbies and lots of fun – at 83!

“I used to sit and watch soap operas all day. Now I cannot keep still. I like the aerobics class because the music makes me feel young again and the instructor is so funny.”

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83-year-old Ana Casil and her son, Kane, live in a small two-bedroom apartment. Ana’s doctor was concerned about her level of activity at home and that she needed to get outside and exercise during the day in order to stay healthy. Kane, who works full-time as an administrative assistant, wanted to find an affordable wellness program for his mother that would encourage her to stay active and socialize during the day.

“I heard about The Salvation Army Adult Day Health Services (ADHS) through a friend. I applied for my mom to attend four days a week and now she’s into all sorts of hobbies and activities,” said Kane.

Ana regularly participates in Tai Chi, aerobics, and cooking classes each week. “I used to sit and watch soap operas all day. Now I cannot keep still. I like the aerobics class because the music makes me feel young again and the instructor is so funny,” said Ana.

Located at the gateway to Downtown Honolulu, ADHS serves more than 60 seniors in need of care during the day while their loved ones are at work. The center provides daily supervision through affordable services, socialization, nursing and therapeutic services, and senior housing for those eligible. Learn more about our ADHS program at seniorcare.salvationarmy.org.

FSO conducts homeless outreach

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Today The Salvation Army Family Services Office (FSO) homeless outreach team handed out bottled water and food to families and individuals in need. Our team doesn’t see their work as a hand down, but a hand up. They’re providing prayer and information to ensure these individuals are aware of resources that can provide them employment opportunities or access to housing through other agencies.
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“These people are people,” one woman who lives on River Street said. “Some of us don’t have a contingency plan and we end up here. I’m still attending Leeward Community College and when I graduate, I’ll find a job and get off the streets. I’m making it work with what I have right now and any information or help is appreciated.”
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Learn more on how we plan to address the homeless issue by registering for The Salvation Army CEO Sleepout at CEOSLEEPOUTHAWAII.org. All proceeds raised will benefit our Family Services across Hawaii.
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For more information on our Family Services, visit fso.salvationarmy.org.