Updated on February 24, 2017
This morning, The Salvation Army Family Services Office (FSO) and Pathway of Hope (POH) conducted a homeless outreach to those living in encampments near the Karsten Thot Bridge in Wahiawa. There are two encampments on each side of the bridge. Guided by the organization Alea Bridge, our staff had encountered between 20 to 30 people. Most of the others had gone out to work or gather food. Here is the outreach visit through the eyes of our Marketing & Communications Manager Brandi Salas, who accompanied The Salvation Army team to capture their work.
“We usually do homeless outreach in Downtown Honolulu, because that’s where we see them the most,” says Director of Pathway of Hope Anna Stone. “We’ve partnered with Alea Bridge to help us extend our reach and help people in areas unfamiliar to us. This is the first time we’re checking out the encampments in Wahiawa.”
Guided by two brothers, Alea Bridge Founder and Director of Operations Joe Acosta, and Executive Director Phil Acosta, The Salvation Army team heads into the first encampment, handing out bottled water, clean clothes, and hygiene kits for men and women. FSO Caseworker, Victor Cordero spent a few minutes sorting out hygiene kits for men and women, explaining, “In our field, most think that we distribute food and water. But we know that in order to secure jobs and stay healthy, every person needs a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and shampoo.” Each hygiene kit includes items he mentions, including feminine hygiene products and shaving supplies.
The Salvation Army hopes to identify those in Wahiawa who are willing to find stable jobs and housing, which is no easy task. The most common barrier for the homeless is the lack of documents such as having a State ID or birth certificate. “Those barriers really prevent these individuals from getting access to medical care or affordable housing,” says Phil Acosta. “They don’t have the required documents to apply for housing, nor do they have the resources to get them.”
Walking along the first encampment, you’ll find 55-year-old George Fung, who goes by Priest, a leader-type who keeps an eye out for his neighbors and makes sure they are keeping their areas clean. He says, “Many of the homeless here have been born into poverty or faced unforeseen circumstances. But some of them are so resilient. In our encampment, we try to keep our areas tidy, our bodies clean as best we can, and most of us hold down jobs. We have people here who are capable of great work, but lack the necessary documents and a physical address to apply for certain things.”
Priest thanks the team for bringing him and his neighbors clean clothes, water, and hygiene kits. As he walks us out, I ask, “What do you wish people knew about you and your neighbors, who are so capable of working and becoming active in the community?” He responds, “I want them to know that we are the same. We are the same. We are the same. Some people were born with money and opportunity, some of us were born into poverty. We just have to break the cycle to see each other as equals. We have people, like most people you know, that wake-up, wash up, go to work, return home with some food and they do it all over again. The only difference is that the home they go to is in a tent.”
Preparing to cross Kamehameha Highway to the second encampment, we come across 56-year-old Moana Fick-Chung, a woman that lives near Priest. She takes a hygiene kit, a pair of jeans, and two bottles of water. “You notice we don’t have children here,” she says. “We feel this is not an appropriate place for children to grow up. They need to be in a home and feel safe. We’re all adults here and we can take care of ourselves.” She has been homeless for 20 years.
The second encampment is much bigger than the first. Joe and Phil introduce us to Orlando, Wendell, and Ipo. The three give us access to the entire encampment. “Let me tidy up a bit before you step in here,” says 54-year-old Wendell Kawelo. He warns me to watch my step as he is trying to grow ti leaf plants along his tent. “I wanted to make it nicer, but the rain really makes things slippery and wet. No help that we live next to the river,” he says.
We distribute the rest of our kits and water to the few that are reluctant to leave their tents. Most of them go to work, while some stay behind and watch everyone’s belongings. “I want to thank you, Salvation Army. We’ve never seen you folks here before,” says 54-year-old Orlando Apilando. “I’ve heard of you guys and what you do, but I’m glad you made it out here to see what it’s like. We are hidden most times, invisible when you pass by here on your way to visit the North Shore, but we are here and we are in need.”
The Salvation Army is planning on conducting more homeless outreach visits in Wahiawa and along the North Shore. “There are nearly 250 more homeless on the North Shore in need of services,” says Joe. “It is often difficult to get outreach groups out there because they are so spread out. But the need is always there.”
Note: FSO and POH are two Salvation Army programs that work closely together to bridge emergency disaster services, basic needs assistance, rental assistance, and case management. The small staff of both programs works towards one goal: to provide tools for individuals and families to secure stable jobs and safe homes. FSO currently conducts a weekly homeless outreach in Downtown Honolulu and works with POH and a number of other agencies to identify and assist homeless individuals that are in need of drug and alcohol rehabilitation, case management and other Salvation Army services.
Learn more about our programs and how you can help us make a difference by visiting hawaii.salvationarmy.org.
Updated on February 16, 2017
This past Sunday, The Salvation Army was one of three organizations to receive ukuleles from The Ukulele Foundation at the 9th Annual Ukulele Picnic of Hawaii at Kakaako Waterfront Park. Thanks to Mr. Kazuyuki Sekiguchi, Executive Producer of the event and founder of the foundation, keiki across Oahu (Honolulu, Waianae, Kaneohe, and Kapolei) will have access to ukuleles in their music programs.
Mr. Sekiguchi presented the first ukulele to a Salvation Army keiki and said the donations were to “inspire the next generation” to perpetuate the art of ukulele playing and create beautiful music.
The Salvation Army thanks the Ukulele Foundation of Hawaii for their generous donation to thousands of keiki served throughout our programs.
Updated on February 13, 2017
Our Chief Development Officer, Jennifer Hee, has been recognized in Hawaii Business Magazine’s 8th Annual 20 for the Next 20: Hawaii’s People to Watch. The 20 for the Next 20 honors Hawaii’s emerging leaders who are energetic, innovative, and intelligent. Hawaii Business Magazine highlights her strategic leadership skills and passion for serving others. Read the full article here.
It is an honor and a privilege to work under such great leadership. We congratulate you, Jennifer, for showing us how to serve our community efficiently, passionately, and with the best intentions. – The Development Team
Updated on December 30, 2016
We politely interrupted a few of the seniors at our Adult Day Health Services (ADHS) during their exercise activity to ask them (and their nurses) what their resolutions or hopes would be for 2017. Here is what they shared:
Wai Hin has been coming to ADHS for six years. She enjoys the fun activities and camaraderie among the nurses and fellow participants. “I’m blessed to be here. Marjorie is one of my favorite nurses because she makes me laugh all the time,” she said. Marjorie responded, “Wai Hin, YOU are the one that makes me laugh and you’re the reason why my job is so enjoyable. 2017 is going to be filled with more laughter!”
Wai Hin and her fellow participants, Nancy and Tomiko, enjoy the ADHS program, especially the exercise activities, cooking tutorials, musical performances by volunteer musicians or local churches, and keiki that visit and do arts and crafts. “Our program involves the entire community and our participants enjoy that,” said Stacy Honma, Administrator at ADHS. “We are blessed to serve these vibrant and fun-loving seniors every day and we look forward to continuing that next year.”
The Salvation Army Adult Day Health Services (ADHS) program currently serves up to 60 kūpuna in the Honolulu community. ADHS nurses and staff provide meals, therapy, and activities to improve the quality of life for participants. To learn more about our ADHS program, visit seniorcare.salvationarmy.org.
Posted on December 13, 2016
Salvation Army Līhuʻe Corps Officer and Kauaʻi County Coordinator, Lt. Elizabeth Gross, spontaneously jumped up to dance with students to Shakira’s “Waka Waka.”
Our Salvation Army Līhuʻe Corps Officer and Kauaʻi County Coordinator, Lt. Elizabeth Gross, visited the King Kaumualiʻi Elementary School to speak at the assembly to more than 600 students and faculty. The students had collected 620 food items over the past few weeks for their holiday food drive and presented it to Lt. Gross.
Lt. Gross asked the young audience if they knew where the food would go, one child spoke up loud and proud, “to the homeless!” Lt. Gross affirmed the boy’s answer and explained the food will be used for people without a home, in the soup kitchens that serve meals every week, and could be used for emergency disasters.
The kids were very pleased with the impact they helped make on the community and celebrated with a Zumba dance, inviting Lt. Gross to join in.
Mahalo to the students and faculty at King Kaumualiʻi Elementary School for helping us change lives on Kauaʻi!
If you’d like to help on Kauaʻi, volunteer bell ringers are still needed through Christmas Eve. Visit our volunteer website to sign up and help us make a difference in our island communities. Mele Kalikimaka from our Kauaʻi Corps!