Kūpuna Camp – a tradition among best friends

by Brandi Salas

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87-year-old Florence is meticulously painting her star ornament and warns her best friend, Daisy, that they only have a few minutes left to finish their project. “Daisy, they’re going to tell us to wrap up soon. Space Bingo is next and I plan to win.”

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“I’m almost pau, get one more section to paint,” responded 92-year-old Daisy. Florence and Daisy are two of 80 seniors that attended The Salvation Army Kūpuna Camp this summer. “Daisy and I are best friends. We have been coming to The Salvation Army Kūpuna Camp for 24 years. She told me about it one day and it has become a tradition for us,” said Florence.

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The Salvation Army’s Kūpuna Camp is a half-day retreat that takes place at Camp Homelani on the North Shore and invites seniors in various communities across O‘ahu to enjoy fellowship, participate in arts and crafts, games, and a luncheon to follow. This year’s theme is “Blast Off” and each activity is packed with space-themed colors and galaxy patterns. “Kūpuna Camp is an important program because it gives us an opportunity to connect with the seniors in the community, pray with them, and show them that they are loved,” said Major Lani Chamness. “We have some senior campers here that look forward to it every year, because they are isolated most of the time and are in need of fellowship and companionship.”

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Florence and Daisy

The buzzer goes off, signaling Florence and Daisy to move onto their next activity, which is Space Bingo. “I’m great at Bingo it’s a game we all enjoy,” exclaimed Florence, walking ahead to save a seat for Daisy. “Daisy and I go way back. We used to be neighbors at one point. Now we play ukulele at the Mo‘ili‘ili Community Center and wait until we get our invitation to attend Kūpuna Camp. It’s the highlight of the summer for us. We even get goodie bags.”

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Each senior camper receives a bag full of items they may find useful such as snacks, blankets, socks, and more. Florence, Daisy, and other campers rotate around the campus, playing skee ball, getting free balloon hats, and shooting down aliens with Nerf guns. “Every time I come, get something new to do,” said Daisy, “that’s why we sign up every year, they keep us entertained, there’s fellowship, and get all kine activities.”

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The day ends early with a prayer and a healthy lunch. “Daisy, I see we gonna get astronaut ice cream and cheesecake for dessert,” spies Florence.

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Lunch ends with another round of balloon tricks, hugs, and goodbyes. “We better pack up and get on our bus back to Ka‘uluwela Corps,” said Florence. “Let’s go Daisy. We’ll be back next year!”

To learn more about our services and programs for seniors, visit our website.

Camp Homelani is changing the game this year…

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The Salvation Army Camp Homelani is adding STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) to our summer camp educational activities so keiki learn how to innovate and build with a purpose! STEAM encourages innovation, creativity and the sharing of ideas.

Just last week, campers addressed world issues such as poverty, violence, pollution and hunger. They worked in teams of five or six to invent a machine or contraption with the intention of solving a problem in their community and later presented it to their peers.

We learned that pollution is not good for our health. So we created a machine that would help pick up trash and save the earth. We’re just like scientists! – The ‘Let’s Stop Pollution Girls’ Team

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Camp Homelani incorporates STEAM activities daily in addition to recreational activities such as swimming, sports, hula, or art. Each year, approximately 450 keiki from across Hawaii are invited to experience summer camp on the North Shore of O’ahu.

Click here to learn more about Camp Homelani.

Choco le’a serves a special dinner to our clients in recovery

Choco le'a

Last Friday, our friends at Choco le’a served a special dinner to clients at The Salvation Army Family Treatment Services (FTS). “We wanted to do something special for the women who inspire us,” said Choco le’a co-owner, Erin Uehara, who also serves on The Salvation Army Echelon Board. “I’ve heard their stories of resiliency and I admire their determination to become strong, contributing members of our community.”

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Uehara and her team gave gifts to each mother along with toys and clothing for their children. “We won a grant from the American Small Business Championship and we decided to use it to buy necessities for the women in recovery and their children. It’s something our team wanted to do,” said Uehara.

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“It was nice to know that we have neighbors that support our journey to recovery. Seeing how they want to contribute to our families’ success is heartwarming,” said Chasity S., a client at FTS. “We want to thank them for everything they have given us and getting to know us personally.”

FROM CIVIL BEAT: Hawaii’s New Ice Age: Meth And Regaining Motherhood

We’d like to share a great article on our Family Treatment Services graduate, Georgianna DeCosta, who is making an impact in the community through the Hawaii Meth Project.

DeCosta-Family-1-e1465958652417-1200x0-c-default“The Salvation Army had to teach me how to live every day, how to get up in the morning and brush your teeth and fix your bed; because when you are chasing dope 24/7, you don’t do these kinds of things,” Georgianna DeCosta, Hawaii Meth Project

View full article here.

The Art of Cooking for a Lifetime

by Brandi Salas

Five mother sauces.

Butter versus margarine.

Paneer Cheese and Fromage Blanc.

These lessons aren’t from a gourmet cookbook, they’re straight out of a treatment facility at The Salvation Army in Kaimuki. The culinary class at The Salvation Army Family Treatment Services (FTS) isn’t just changing lifestyles through healing and rehabilitation, they’re changing perceptions about the art of cooking. A recent partnership between The Salvation Army FTS and the organization Touch A Heart has established an intense culinary program for women who are about to exit treatment.


Colin Kumabe of Touch A Heart teaches Salvation Army clients how to cook beef curry.

“It came about from the needs of our clients,” said Candace Pang, the Clinical Director at The Salvation Army FTS. “The clients are women who are getting out of treatment, trying to become financially independent. It was difficult with the type of opportunities that were available to them. Touch a Heart approached us and showed that they could start a vocational program that would enable them to confidently apply for jobs in the food industry.”

FTS client De Ann K. and Colin Kumabe discuss how various ingredients affect the texture and consistency of stews and broths.

FTS client De Ann K. and Colin Kumabe discuss how various ingredients affect the texture and consistency of stews and broths.

The culinary program, which began in May 2015, teaches up to four clients during a 12-week period. The curriculum diversifies the art of cooking with creativity, life skills building, and empowerment. Each day’s lesson begins with a life skill component and ends with a cooking activity for the women. “We realize that the women we have were broken at one point in their lives. In order for them to learn something new and exciting, we have to empower them with the knowledge first and encourage them to take risks,” said Colin Kumabe, the Touch A Heart instructor and Director of Operations. “Our philosophy comes from the saying give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. In our case, we are helping these women feed themselves and their families for life.”


Pang said the teaching methods are effective in the clients’ healing process and also prepares them for working in the service industry. “It’s not only about the culinary skills, the women built confidence, feeling of accomplishment, understanding about commitment to doing something, showing up,” she said. “It was more about cutting carrots in five different ways. It was a bigger lesson for them.”

The partnership currently accommodates a limited amount of clients each period. “We only take on four clients because we want to get to know them, their palettes, and personalize their experience. We adapt the curriculum to what they usually cook, and what’s practical for them to make,” said Kumabe. The clients are taken on outings that help them price vegetables, meats, and spices around town. Kumabe and his wife, the President of Touch A Heart, plan to take the women to Chinatown next week to show them how affordable it is to cook their own food for their families. “My wife and I used to feed the homeless each week on a small budget. Helping The Salvation Army clients prioritize healthier options will help them save money and instill healthy habits in their children,” said Kumabe. One lesson that Colin taught was making a beef stew with fresh vegetables and showing how the women can use leftovers to make a beef and vegetable soup for the next day. “It’s little tips that show them how to save money and feed their families.”


Ana R. enjoyed cooking before she started the program. The skills she learned has helped be more creative when cooking for her children.

Lessons in cooking couldn’t come at a better time for 46-year-old De Ann K., a client who is just about to graduate from FTS. “I’m blessed to be taking cooking lessons right before I graduate from the FTS program. I’m hoping to get a job at a restaurant and start cooking for my own family at home,” she said. De Ann was homeless for five years, suffered an addiction to meth and marijuana, and ran away from a very abusive relationship. “I’m so thankful that I finally feel stable. I was in and out of domestic abuse shelters for a while. Being able to have these skills under my belt will help me find a job that I truly enjoy,” she said.

Another client, Ana R., expressed that cooking has helped her bond with her baby. “Colin showed us how to incorporate our kids into preparing dinner. Like having them mix the salad at the table, little things like that,” said Ana. “We’re all trying to be better people, better mothers, it’s great to get tips on teaching our kids healthy habits and bond with them at the same time.”


The Salvation Army’s partnership with Touch A Heart has already helped two recent FTS graduates secure jobs at popular local restaurants. The Walmart Foundation ‘s Hawaii State Giving Council recently granted The Salvation Army $50,000 to continue the intense culinary training with Touch A Heart with a focus on supporting the clients’ abilities to support themselves.


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