A Lighthouse of Hope

"Human needs are very similar everywhere. We all need safety, acceptance and support, no matter where we are in the world.

Captains Oleg Samoilenko and Dominika Domanska serve for The Salvation Army in Warsaw, Poland, where they have been at the forefront of the ongoing Ukranian refugee crisis. In The War Cry, Captain Samoilenko shared his experience of serving people in such dire circumstance.

I will never forget the day when 500 refugees from Ukraine turned to our corps (church) for help. We did not know how we could help everyone with our two-person team (my wife and myself) and only two volunteers (my mother and my aunt, who are Ukrainian refugees themselves). 

We sat at the reception table all day, handing out food and clothes but more importantly listening to their stories and the tragedies that they experienced. At one point I realized that one of the women was from the street where I grew up in my native city of Kharkiv in Ukraine. Kharkiv has been very badly damaged by bombs and explosions, and my parents’ apartment and my old school were destroyed. Together with this woman we cried and shared memories about our district. 

But for more than six years now, I have been serving in Poland, which has become my new home. In this new home, I’ve seen that human needs are very similar everywhere. We all need safety, acceptance and support, no matter where we are in the world. 

Our corps and community center are located in one of the poorest areas in Warsaw, where one can easily access drugs and alcohol. There are many addicts and people who need support in our neighborhood. This makes it the perfect place for The Salvation Army, which is like a lighthouse in a stormy sea. 

Very often in our ministry we hear many depressing stories about things such as difficult family situations and the lack of hope. People seldom come to us to share positive things. So, it is very important for each of us to remember that there will not always be dark days. We are here for these people and maybe the only home they have. God tells us that we should be like light in the darkness. Don’t give up, even when it’s hard for you. When you are in the depths of the ocean, all you can do is swim up.

By Captain Oleg Samoilenko, Warsaw, Poland (Germany, Lithuania & Poland Territory)

Giving Tuesday

This past Giving Tuesday (November 28, 2023), Commissioner Kenneth Hodder and Commissioner Jolene Hodder were joined by Carlos and Alexa PenaVega and Erin and Ben Napier on TV interviews and social media to raise awareness about The Salvation Army’s work.

 The PenaVegas were interviewed for NBC’s “Today” and “US Weekly” before Alexa went to Bronx Citadel Childcare Center to read to children. Meanwhile, the Napiers were interviewed on “Fox & Friends” and “The Drew Barrymore Show.” 

Between their interviews, the Napiers visited the Harlem Temple corps to prepare and serve meals to the community. 

Both couples encouraged everyone to give generously and modeled servanthood through their actions. 

Waioli Kitchen & Bake Shop

The Waioli Tea Room was first opened in 1922 as a training ground for orphans housed at The Salvation Army Girls Home in Hawaii. Today, it has now reopened as the Waioli Kitchen & Bake Shop by Ross and Stefanie Anderson, and is located in The Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters in Honolulu, HI. 

The Tea Room was originally a vocational training facility, training the young women in the girls home  in cooking, cleaning, food service and hospitality. The young women staffed and operated the Tea Room, learning these skills in the process. 

Today, the Waioli Kitchen & Bake Shop has opened to help women be self-sufficient and get a head start in the workforce. “The new Waioli provides vocational training for graduates of programs for the treatment of substance abuse disorders and for individuals recently released from incarceration,” says the website. 

To learn more, visit 

A Chocolatier Is Here To Help

A chocolate shop owner in Honolulu, HI threw herself into helping the families affected by the fires in Maui last August. When Erin Kanno Uehara’s chocolate business, Choco Le’a, struggled, she held onto hope and her faith. It was her time with God that helped her through the business struggling. When hearing of the fires in Maui, she designed a box of chocolate to help care for families, selling the specialized truffle boxes for two months and then donated all net proceeds to The Salvation Army’s efforts on Maui. 

“I am so happy to serve,” she told Caring Magazine. “They [The Salvation Army] know how to move in when there is a need, get things done, and do it with kindness, care and love. Anything I’ve done with the Army has been incredible.” 

Click here to read this story via Caring Magazine.

Paw Parties Bring The Community Together

The Salvation Army Sherman Avenue Corps in Washington D.C. has a new way to reach the local community: Paw Parties. 

After noticing a lack of community in the neighborhood, Major Skirant and Captain Indrani Bhatnagar invited their newly adopted dog, Sage, on the steps of the corps building to greet passersby. 

“More and more conversations were starting to take place,” said Major Skirant, when they brought Sage to the corps. That is when Major Skirant and Captain Indrani came up with this idea to reach out to the neighborhood. 

Held monthly on a Saturday morning or a weekday evening, the corps (church) hosts the Paw Parties for both dogs and dog parents to gather together. 

The gathering features music, snacks, drinks, water play and games, and contests for chances to win prizes. Each month follows a theme. The first Paw Party began in June 2022. Past themes inculde “Mardi Paws” and “St. Pawtrick’s Day.”  

“We have gained corps members, many volunteers, and program members throughout this special program,” Major Skirant said. Major Skirant hopes to continue this program in 2024. He hopes to add “the environment of a coffee shop” and refreshments for the dog owners to allow for more people to want to attend.

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