Touch A Heart: Training Workers and Transforming Lives

Opening doors for those facing challenges getting work

Sponsored by Central Pacific Bank

Getting a job today is already difficult. Add barriers like incarceration or substance abuse, and the task becomes even greater. Touch A Heart is an organization that opens its doors for individuals who face these challenges to work, and in turn, is able to serve the community.

Touch A Heart is a nonprofit organization that has been operating since 2004 that started out by offering informal social services mentorship and tutoring as well as meals to houseless individuals and families.

In 2014, Touch A Heart revamped its operations to address the unique needs of individuals with barriers to employment. Since then, it’s been offering vocational training in food services and operating three social enterprises – Touch A Heart Catering, Baker’s Heart and Uncle Pono’s Ulu Ice Cream.

Most nonprofits rely heavily on grants and donations, but Touch A Heart aims to be less dependent on these sources of income. That’s where our social enterprises come in! These are businesses that the nonprofit operates with a social purpose to accomplish two things: Provide its trainees and apprentices with hands-on, on-the-job training opportunities and to create earned income for Touch A Heart that help fund its programs.

So when someone purchases something from Touch A Heart, they’re getting a lot more than the product itself because they’re helping those in need.

“Customers get the product, whether it be our baked goods, meals or ice cream, but they also know that their hard-earned money is also going to support a good cause,” explains Executive Director Robyn Kumabe. “They’re helping someone who comes from difficult circumstances, such as incarceration, to turn their life around by receiving culinary training and finding a job. And we know that stable employment reduces recidivism as people become economically independent, able to care for themselves and their families and there are many more positive outcomes.”

For more information: touchahearthawaii.org, Facebook: @touchahearthawaii, Instagram: @touchaheart, or on Twitter: @HITouchAHeart