This holiday season we would like to share the story of Honolulu Community College alumnus Craig Shoji and his wife Danica. Craig graduated from Honolulu CC with a degree in Occupational and Environmental Safety Management. He is currently a safety manager for Kiewit Infrastructure West, Co. Danica is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University where she earned her CPA. Together they started Revive+Refresh a mobile hygiene center that provides hot showers for low income and the houseless.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and what are you doing now?
I’m originally from Hilo, Hawaii and currently a Safety Manager for Kiewit Infrastructure West, CO.
What's one of your fondest memories of your time at UH?
Getting to know others that have the same interests and career path as you. Talking to the instructors that were working in the field.
Describe your career path. How did you end up doing the work you’re doing today?
Not everyone wakes up and decides to become a safety professional or say that when I grow up, I want to work in the field of safety. I was working for Hawaiian Airlines as a manager for the Fleet Support Department and was asked by my director to attend a HAZWOPER 40 Hr. class and I said yes. During the class it was interesting to learn about cleaning waste sites and the environment. That started my search for a degree program related to the field and I came across HonoluluCC Occupational Safety Environmental Management courses. During the class I found that safety was more interesting to me and focused my track towards the safety field instead. That led me to my current career.
What inspired you to create Revive+Refresh?
I attended a mission trip to San Francisco with our Church and worked with an organization called City Impact which works with the Homeless and low-income communities in the Tenderloin District. During our trip we learned how the organization served the community through their programs and schools.
One morning while walking as a group to the main center I said “Good Morning” to one of the homeless guys on the sidewalk and he was surprised that I said “Good Morning” to him. I asked why, and he said everyone usually walks by and treats them as if they were invisible or avoids them.
Upon returning home we started small by starting FPC Laundry Love, which provides a Free Laundry service for the homeless at a local laundromat in Waimanalo. We ran that for 18 months, before that we started working on the logistics and looking at other organizations that provide the same services on the mainland and found Lava Mae who was helpful in telling us how they started and which vendors they used and they even invited us to see their operation.
What’s been the most rewarding aspect of running Revive+Refresh?
The most rewarding aspect of running Revive+Refresh is seeing people come out after taking a hot shower and tell me how much they appreciate what we do. We had one of our guests tell us that he had no memory of the last time he had a hot shower. Another guest went in and came out and expressed “Wow look 3 tone lighter; I can’t believe how much dirt came off me and I shower every day at the parks.” Another came out and said, “what do you put in the water?” and we said, “Nothing and why?” and she just started to cry and said “Thank You”, and offered to give us money, which we declined to accept.
How has your UH education helped you in your career?
Without my UH education, I wouldn’t be able to get some of my designations that require a higher education degree.
What advice would you give students and alumni hoping to start their own non-profits or businesses?
Advice that I can give to other students or alumni is to talk to other non-profits or businesses owners and see if they are willing to share their experiences and, information and challenges they went through. See if they are willing to let you observe their operation.