The Salvation Army keeps its mission alive with Echelon Hawaii.

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Echelon Hawaii, a branch of The Salvation Army, works to better the lives of the local community with classroom supplies donations to schools in need, outdoor camping experiences for children at Camp Homelani, free hot meals throughout the year, senior housing, disaster relief efforts, weekly ministry programs and more (photos courtesy Echelon Hawaii).

With a history that dates as far back as 1865, when ordained minister William Booth and wife Catherine put into motion what eventually would become Th e Salvation Army, it’s an organization that may come across at times as—well, a little old.

It’s a sentiment The Salvation Army— Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division chief development officer Jennifer Hee understands. But with the launch of Echelon Hawaii in March, she’s hoping to put a young face to the longstanding organization.

“Especially with this generation, I think people want to do good, they want to get involved,” she says. “I want people to see that there’s so many opportunities to give back to the community through our organization, and these young leaders are really making a difference for the community.

“It’s really to mobilize the next generation of supporters for The Salvation Army,” she adds.

As such, the local chapter of the National Young Adult Auxiliary works to support the goals and initiatives of The Salvation Army. This might include something as simple as a member lending their time to work with children at Camp Homelani, which offers an affordable camping experience for families. Most recently, Echelon members helped serve about 2,000 attendees at its annual Thanksgiving dinner, providing free meals to those without a hot meal or home (or simply in need of fellowship).

The Salvation Army offers a multitude of services. Everything from senior housing and disaster relief are available, along with weekly ministry programs, family treatments services and Care-A-Van, which searches for and helps homeless around the island—and that’s barely scratching the surface. So really, the ways Echelon helps The Salvation Army are endless.

“It’s kind of a wide range of community service and volunteering,” says Hee.

In smaller ways, Echelon seeks to provide support simply by leading by example. Unlike other organizations targeted to young professionals, notes Hee (who adds that she has been involved in other similar groups), Echelon does not allow any alcohol at its events—a nod to the drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs Th e Salvation Army offers. It was a decision the Echelon board made early on, and one Hee feels demonstrates that it is mission-focused.

“That was really to honor the people that we serve—the people that are going through our drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and the children that are affected because of drugs and alcohol from their parents,” she says.

“We do so much good. We’re not just about the red kettles that you see during the holidays and the angel trees,” Hee adds. “All of that supports the work that we do, but we have so many other programs across the state and these young people really want to be a part of that and do good for the community.”

Led by current chairman Jeremy Shorenstein from Tradewind Capital Group, Echelon will be zeroing in on youth and education in 2017. All events, Hee notes, do not charge an admission or registration fee. Instead, Echelon collects school supplies throughout the year to support Th e Salvation Army’s annual back-to-school drive in July and August. (Monetary contributions also are collected and then used to help the Hawai’i state Department of Education.)

Hee herself has been with Th e Salvation Army now since 2014, winding up at the organization in a rather serendipitous way. It’s the only organization her father supports, she explains, since Th e Salvation Army had a hand in helping her grandfather. So when the opportunity to join the organization arose, she jumped on it.

“I’m really glad,” she says. “I’m really blessed that I got the position and that I’m able to help develop programs like this in Hawai’i.”