Marching Onward

Surrounding The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope director Anna Stone are City Mill’s VP Carol Ai May, president and CEO Steven Ai, and project manager Evan Killips. City Mill is one of three companies that The Salvation Army will honor at its 2018 Army of Hope Gala April 28.


We’re at the front lines of a battle being fought by soldiers whose mission is saving souls. There are no weapons, anger or aggression involved in the offensive. Yet many wars over human despair are won handily.

This regiment of social service is The Salvation Army.

Didn’t recognize it without the red kettles and tambourines?

Well, that’s what happens when an agency keeps itself focused on rebuilding lives rather than flaunting its many achievements. The Salvation Army’s faith-based roots keep its mission driven by divine inspiration rather than a secular scorecard.

Its arsenal is filled with compassion, friendship, dignity, restorative empowerment and responsiveness to natural or man-made disasters. Structured in quasi-military fashion — hence the “army” term — it does battle against human suffering in 128 countries.

It has been pursuing its mission since 1865 and assists 25 million Americans annually.

The initial contingent of five Salvationists came to Hawai‘i in 1894, when the first Salvation Army hall was located at 1680 S. King St. In the late 1890s, Dr. Theodore Richards gave the group a building at Vineyard and River streets to center its activities. Today, that location is used as part of the Kauluwela Mission Corps.

Hawai‘i’s Salvation Army has grown into a statewide network of social services and religious programs serving thousands of men, women and children each year.

In addition to providing basic needs such as food and shelter, the organization’s new programs address contemporary needs including day care, summer camps, disaster relief services, holiday assistance, services for senior citizens, hospital and medical facilities, shelter for battered wives and children, family and career counseling, vocational training and correctional services.

“Vital support from our partnerships and donors helped us tackle new challenges and reach new goals,” says Maj. John Chamness, divisional leader for Hawai‘i and the Pacific. “Last year, we were able to serve 87,905 people in Hawai‘i, Guam, Saipan, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.”

Passers-by donate pocket change at a red kettle site in a bygone era. PHOTO COURTESY THE SALVATION ARMY

An important part of facilitating those services comes from public and private partnerships. Together, it is possible to do what The Salvation Army refers to as the Pathway of Hope: giving those who have lost their way in life a chance to recover from misfortune. Going from helplessness to hopefulness can be an impossible journey without guidance.

A recent example of the charitable organization in action was the aftermath of the fire at the Marco Polo condominium that left three people dead and affected hundreds of residents. The Salvation Army was one of the first agencies on the scene to provide food, clothing, and emotional and spiritual care.

The agency’s case managers followed the immediate response team by helping residents find alternative housing and resources. Donations to the relief efforts helped permanently house seven displaced households and stabilize an additional four households. Twenty families were served with housing placement services and case management after the fire.

There are thousands of stories of relief and recovery in the organization’s annals of assistance. When desperate individuals do not know where to turn for help, The Salvation Army becomes a best friend and confidant.

The welfare of disadvantaged youths is one of the agency’s priorities, according to Chamness. “Through our youth-focused programs, we help children and teens through camping opportunities, day care, preschools, as well as special programs for at-risk youth,” he reports.

The Salvation Army also addresses the special concerns of local kūpuna (seniors) by providing adult day health services and affordable senior housing for those eligible.


It is that hopeful spirit that The Salvation Army presents its 2018 Army of Hope Gala from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at the Family Treatment Services facility (845 22nd Ave. in Kaimukī). The outdoor event recognizes agency partners who have made a positive impact in our community. This year’s honor-ees are City Mill, Regal Bakery and D.R. Horton Hawai‘i.

Guests will be treated to mocktails and signature menu selections created by some of O‘ahu’s best chefs and mixologists, as well as live music. Featured restaurants include Chef Chai, Halekulani, Hy’s Steak House, Il Gelato, MW Restaurant, Senia, The Pig and The Lady, 3660 on the Rise, and Touch of Heart.

Funds raised at the gala will support the organization’s Pathway of Hope initiative that provides a foundation of housing, jobs and a new community to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, homelessness and drug addiction.


For generations, City Mill has helped customers in the retail and home goods sector. It also has provided jobs to many, including graduates of The Salvation Army’s adult rehabilitation center and family treatment services.

Last fall, City Mill partnered with the organization to raise more than $30,000 for Hurricane Harvey and Irma relief efforts.

“We’re humbled to be honored by The Salvation Army,” says Carol Ai May, City Mill vice president-administration, “but we realize we are just one of many companies and individuals who contribute time and resources to its programs and projects.”

She adds, “I believe the alliance of profit and nonprofit entities is good business because each sector can teach and learn from the other.”

Representing City Mill at the gala will be May, president-CEO Steven Ai and Evan Killips, May’s son who works at the family company, founded in 1899.

May noted that her grandfather, Chung Kun Ai, founder of City Mill, made regular donations to The Salvation Army from 1947 as his Christmas gift and for building funds.

Having this family tie to the agency takes the company full circle to a cause that generations support and value.

The Salvation Army in Hawai‘i assists thousands of people each year through social services and religious programs. PHOTO COURTESY THE SALVATION ARMY


Known for cakes and specialty donuts, Regal Bakery has been serving island communities since 2007. Regal is a longtime supporter of National Donut Day, held on the first Friday in June, when more than 5,000 donuts are donated for the annual event.

Each of Regal’s three O‘ahu locations helps to celebrate and educate the community about The Salvation Army’s history of serving veterans and others in need, according to Kerry Lau, Regal Bakery proprietor.

D.R. Horton Hawai‘i creates viable communities serving thousands of families in ‘Ewa Beach and Kapolei. Working closely with the Department of Education and community partners, its developments have access to schools, commercial farms, shopping centers, public transportation and recreation.

In partnership with The Salvation Army, every family living in Ho‘opili receives a free one-year membership to the organization’s Kroc Community Center for social, recreational and educational activities.

The Westside developer also provided monetary and volunteer support last year to refurbish cabins at the agency’s Camp Homelani on O‘ahu’s North Shore.


“We look forward to honoring these three businesses and their leadership teams who have embraced the spirit of the award by partnership with us and giving back to our island communities in significant, impactful ways,” says Chamness.

City Mill’s Ai responds with a corporate responsibility truism: “Whether you are a profit or nonprofit entity, we are all living on the most remote place on earth, and thus need each other.

“All entities provide a service to our island community and without them, specific needs would not be filled,” he states. “Nonprofits help with many aspects of life, much of which you cannot quantify in dollars and cents.”

If you’re on the frontlines of human anxiety and despair, like The Salvation Army is every day, you would surely embrace that view and appreciate that there’s an army defending citizens’ right to the pursuit of happiness.

Gala information and tickets at $250 each ($150 tax deductible), table sponsorships from $5,000 to $25,000, and event sponsorships are available by visiting


• The annual red kettle Christmas fundraising campaign started in 1891 when a Salvation Army captain in San Francisco set up a crab pot to collect money for the poor. Since then, the red kettle campaign has become one of the longest-running fundraising efforts in the world.

• Salvationists have had a strong a° nity for music, including its well-known brass bands. The organization provides music ministries to teach people how to sing or play instruments as part of choirs or bands.

• Revenue from thrift stores provides free rehab services for alcohol or drug addicts, including a 12-step program, work training and residential facilities.

• The Salvation Army is often credited with popularizing the donut. Female volunteers traveled overseas to set up service huts near the front lines. The scent of fresh baked goods permeated the air and drew homesick soldiers. American WWI vets returned home with the nickname “doughboys.”

• The Salvation Army led in the formation of the United Service Organizations during WWII, which serves members of the armed forces abroad.