CEOs ‘sleepout’ at Hawaii State Capitol

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Business leaders overnight outside Hawaii’s Capitol with The Salvation Army to raise awareness for homeless issues.

By David Sayre –

More than 30 Hawaii CEOs, community leaders and Salvation Army representatives participated in the inaugural “The Salvation Army CEO Sleepout” at the Hawaii State Capitol Rotunda Sept. 16.

CEO02The overnight effort was designed to raise awareness of homeless-related issues by having the leaders discuss long-term solutions, participate in outreach to homeless individuals in the downtown area, and experience one night on the street or, in this case, the Capitol Rotunda.

Each participant received cardboard boxes to sleep on, a clean blanket and several meals served from The Salvation Army canteen.

“Our goal was to educate our community and business leaders on how they can become an integral part of an effective, long-term solution for homelessness,” said Major John Chamness, Divisional Commander for The Salvation Army Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division. “I was humbled to see the level of commitment and compassion our community leaders shared during the event.”

Event co-chair Rick Blangiardi, vice president and general manager of Hawaii News Now, summed up the experience following breakfast the next morning. “I’m struck by how appropriate and symbolic it is for us to have overnighted outside at the Capitol in the Rotunda. It’s a collective leadership effort by the nonprofit sector, the for-profit sector and our government. It is more than encouraging that 30 of us have come to this place to experience and share an evening together in the spirit of directly addressing our homeless crisis. We are here at the State Capitol, where our laws are made, and where the possibilities exist to truly impact this heartbreaking situation. Your compassion and caring is the stuff that inspires positive change and your leadership and desire to develop and create solutions to end homelessness is nothing short of inspiring! Thank you all for being here, and for sleeping out tonight at the Capitol in the spirit and hope that we can make a difference if we are willing to work and sacrifice together. Thank you!”

CEO01Sherry Menor McNamara, event participant and president and CEO of Chamber of Commerce Hawaii shared details with Chamber members. “It’s critical that we have strong and collaborative leadership, continue to elevate our efforts and become a part of the discussion to find solutions, as homelessness is not just a social issue, but an economic and statewide issue that affects everyone.” Read her entire recap here.

Another participant, Scott Sivik, market vice president for ‘Ohana Health Plan, concurs. He was part of a five-member team representing ‘Ohana Health Plan and wrote a blog about the Sleepout, which he called a “humbling and fulfilling experience.”

“That evening I was given the opportunity to meet and interact with people whose varied circumstances resulted in them being homeless,” Sivik said. “We all agreed that homelessness is a complex issue requiring the collective efforts of the entire community to solve.”

The Salvation Army launched Pathway of Hope in Hawaii in 2015, a statewide initiative to break the cycles of crisis and intergenerational poverty, homelessness and drug addiction by providing three pillars of change: jobs, housing, and a new community of support and accountability. Studies support that providing these services to individuals who are homeless or have substance abuse problems enhances their chance of success in breaking these cycles.

In addition, data from The Salvation Army’s Family Treatment Services program shows that clients who agree to services and remain engaged have positive outcomes in terms of their recovery, housing, parenting, and the ability to be active participants in the community.

To learn more about The Salvation Army’s long-term solution to homelessness in the islands, visit or

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