We are change agents of hope, transforming lives towards a stronger, healthier, and sustainable future.

About Us

Touch A Heart has been dedicated to preserving and enhancing the dignity of the homeless and disadvantaged in Hawai’i for over a decade.

In 2012, we began to ‘rethink homelessness’ and developed a business model that centered around collaboration and community. Today, we offer our Ho`ololi Food Services Internship, a paid vocational training program in food services for those with high barriers to employment. We partner with the local food services industry to train and place interns who complete the program.  Other non-profits who serve disadvantaged people help us identify our program candidates.

We locate and conduct the vocational training in underutilized commercial kitchens, where we produce and sell baked goods and do catering to support the internship program.  Currently, our ‘one-of-a-kind’, vocational training program in food service trains both men and women in two separate cohorts with a maximum of 6 interns per cohort.  All our interns are in transition and are being trained with the marketable skills necessary to move toward sustainable independent living through employment.

Stable employment will provide our interns with the financial means to eventually secure affordable or subsidized housing, enabling their families to move out of transitional shelters into more permanent housing.

Our History

Since 2004, Touch A Heart has been offering informal social services mentorship, and tutoring, as well as providing meals to homeless families at Blaisdell Park, Waianae Boat Harbor, and the Kumuhonua Shelter.  By 2012, Touch A Heart expanded its number of service days to six days a week, actively collaborating with other community groups to conjointly fund and provide the volunteer-based manpower for this outreach effort.

After a decade of serving homeless families within our community, Touch A Heart adopted a new vision and strategy, then augmented the scope of its organization’s activities to address the challenges the homeless face in their efforts to transition out of the parks.

Shortly after, Touch A Heart developed a tangible plan to partner with other nonprofits with underutilized commercial kitchens to create a Food Services Social Enterprise. The commercial kitchens would serve as vocational training work sites for the constituents of the community, with revenues generated through commercially marketed products, catering services, and food delivery programs used to sustain program operations.  In 2015, The Salvation Army’s Family Treatment Services agreed to pilot the training program with women in their substance abuse recovery programs. We completed five successful courses there,allowing us to refine our program and successfully train 14 women.

In 2017, Touch A Heart moved from the Salvation Army campus to Central Union Church. We expanded the types of people we serve to include women at YWCA Fernhurst transitioning from prison back into the community, and men in recovery from The Salvation Army’s Addiction Treatment Services. We also redesigned the program to focus more on hands-on job training. In July 2017, we hired Chef Chad Haruguchi to expand our catering social enterprise and to help with training. Through a Hawai’i State Grant In Aid, we also hired Jamie Goya as Program Director.

We call the internship program Ho`ololi (“the act of transforming”), because our participants come to us with multiple barriers to employment—they are at or below the poverty level, and do not have the financial resources to secure affordable or subsidized housing. Many are in recovery from drug addiction; others are transitioning from incarceration. Despite these challenges, our interns are taking the positive step of getting training in food service, where well-trained job candidates are always in demand in Hawai’i.

Board of Directors

Robin Kumabe - Board President & E.D.

Robin has been with Touch a Heart, together with her husband for over 10 years.  In January 2012,  together with both past and present Board Members, Touch A Heart re-emerged with an expanded scope of its organization’s activities to not only address the challenges that homeless individuals face as they transition from the parks into stable living environments and lifestyles, but also, to build a sustainable model for nonprofits who partner with Touch A Heart.

Robin is also the Founder and CEO of bCause, an organization that is committed to transforming cause-driven businesses into thriving, sustainable enterprises by helping them reach their full, profitable potential.

Robin brings her experience in the arena of brand, marketing, and communications to support Touch A Heart and future partner organizations by honing in on their ‘cause’ (or their ‘reason for being’) and delivering an impactful, intentional, and inspirational experience to both internal and external stakeholders.

Dante Aragon - Board Vice President

Lance Kakimoto - Board Member

Lance is serving in his first year on the board of Touch A Heart. He became interested in the ministry through his friendship with Robin and Colin Kumabe. Through the feeding and equipping of of others, he sees working with Touch A Heart as a way to carry out the mission in Matthew 25, “serving the least of these,”.

During the week, Lance serves others as a financial advisor for Morgan Stanley, where he helps guide his clients through the turbulent investment environment. He is also a board member of Associated Builders and Contractors and volunteers with Center for Tomorrow Leaders.

As a veteran in the financial department, Lance helps Touch A Heart in the background of fund development.

Melody Fukushima - Board Secretary

An Executive Search Consultant with Inkinen & Associates, Melody brings 20 years of Human Resources knowledge and “heart”. She was formerly the Director of Human Resources for Roberts Hawaii Inc. and TeamPraxis LLC. Being able to support and mentor our interns in resume writing, job interviewing skills, and career planning will help to support them as they gain their independence. Additionally, Melody is involved in numerous community organizations including the Organization for Women Leaders (OWL), Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and is actively involved with Punahou School and Central Union Church Preschool Parent Faculty Associations (PFA).

Betty Kwong - Board Member

Our Team

Colin Kumabe - Director of Operations

As our current Director of Enterprise Operations, Colin Kumabe is responsible for overall training and operations for both the Programs and Social Enterprises, including marketable products produced by training program participants. Kumabe created the Internship Program curriculum and leads the training of each cohort. Approximately 20% of Colin’s time is in developing new products for our businesses/social enterprises. All baked products for the Baker’s Heart social enterprise have been created by Kumabe, along with the research and development efforts for both the ulu ice cream and ulu flour. Kumabe has over 23 years in restaurant operations including
an extensive career in restaurant management at FCH Enterprises (dba Zippy’s Restaurants, Napoleon’s Bakery, A Catered Experience).

Chad Haruguchi - Chef & Trainer

As the Executive Chef and Trainer, Chef Chad Haruguchi runs the day-to-day training of our interns in general food services, providing the practical, hands-on experience he has from numerous local restaurants.  His goal of teaching and inspiring passion for culinary arts is a driving force behind his work with the organization.  Since 2006, he has worked in a varitey of positions, including sous chef at Sam Choy’s and Hukilau Honolulu, and executive chef at Leeward Bowl and Olomana Golf Club.  Chef Chad also oversees all catering projects and has developed all our catering menus, which include some of his own signature dishes.  Our interns gain the majority of their on-the-job training from our catering projects.

Mary Kessell - Program Director

Mary Kessell, handles the recruitment and retention of our program candidates, coordinates all extracurricular activities, field trips, guest speakers Food Safety Certification and job placement opportunities for our graduates, including placement in Touch A Heart’s Social Enterprises.  She recently graduated from the University of Phoenix with an Associate of Art Degree with a concentration in Psychology and is currently working on a Bachelor of Science in Business Degree with a Human Resource Management Certificate.

Consultants

Chef Jason Tsubaki

Jason is on our Advisory Board and is also our consultant.   Presently he volunteers his time to help with our Vocational Training Program and catering projects, lending his expertise and exemplary cooking skills.  An incredible business leader, Jason is also helping to set up our food service enterprises.

  • 1989 – 1990: Kahala Hilton, Executive Sous Chef
  • 1988 – 1989: Westin Kauai, Sous Chef – “Cooks At The Beach”
  • 1974-1988: Ilikai Hotel, Fry-Cook to Executive Sous Chef
  • Other Places of work: Ala Moana Hotel • Byron II • Anna Millers • Pacific Club • Honolulu Club

Pastry Chef Brad Hull

Brad has graciously donated his expertise as a pastry chef to support us at our events by creating an array of awe-inspiring desserts.  He will also be supporting the Vocational Training Program.

  • Current Employment: Lanikai Cookies
  • 2004 – 2005: Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Executive Pastry Chef
  • 2003: Kakaako Bakers Bakery, Pastry Chef & General Manager
  • 2001 – 2003: Kapiolani Community College: Baking & Pastry Instructor
  • 1996 – 2001: Ihilani Resort & Spa, Executive Pastry Chef
  • Other Places of Work: Lanai Resort Partners • Hilton Hawn Village • Ritz Carlton • Napoleon’s Bakery