HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Two Soldiers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 311th Signal Command (Theater), received a tour and heartfelt thanks from the manager of a local rescue mission in Chinatown here, Monday.
Newly-promoted Sgt. Diego Gonzalez and Spec. Ashley Banks-Hester were selected as outstanding Soldiers by their supervisors to visit the mission on behalf of HHC, to receive thanks for a donation of prepared food from the unit's Thanksgiving meal at the 1st Lt. Jonathan Brostrom Community Center on Fort Shafter, Nov. 21.
"We serve about 15,000 meals every month, and are usually even busier during the holiday season," said Shevy Gardner, manager of the River of Life mission. "So every little bit helps… we so appreciate the food your Soldiers and families gave for our Thanksgiving meal."
Gardner showed the Soldiers around the facility at 101 Pauahi Street, which includes a dining room, kitchen and meal preparation area, male and female shower rooms, and storage rooms where donated clothing is folded or hung by volunteers and distributed to visitors in need. She said many of those who visit the mission are military veterans.
When the HHC leadership team decided to donate the extra food from their family meal to help the homeless, the River of Life shelter was one of the only missions on the island that could accept prepared food, as they are not subsidized by government funding. Gardner said this is because of the mission's goal to remain a faith-based organization.
"It's humbling to realize so many in need are veterans, it makes me realize that myself or any of my peers could someday find ourselves in a similar situation," said Gonzalez, a Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic with HHC's motorpool section. "It also makes me realize that even if I can't afford to donate money, time is valuable, and to share some of it is a way to help and means a lot, especially to these fellow veterans… to know there are people who care about them and appreciate the sacrifices they made in the past."
The 311th SC(T), headquartered at Fort Shafter, is the designated Signal Command for the Pacific Theater and provides ongoing support for cooperative military exercises with partner nations throughout the Pacific and Warfighters around the world. Her primary mission is to plan, build, operate, defend, and extend secure Army and Joint networks throughout the Pacific Theater, and support cyberspace operations to ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace.
The mission recently opened a chocolate factory, Chocolate on a Mission, on their third floor to raise money and provide job training and employment for the homeless and those recovering from drug and alcohol addictions. For more information about purchasing chocolate, donating or volunteering, visit chocolateonamission.com or call 808-524-7770.
Gardner said the mission can always use another set of hands, to help hang donated clothing or serve afternoon meals, from 12:30 to 3 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
For more information about the mission and ways to help out, contact the mission's volunteer coordinator, Shirley Davenport, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 808-524-7656 ext. 6061.