It's all about the people.

by Erin Kanno Uehara, Choco le‘a

Erin Uehara holding donated goods from Chocole'a in front of Chocole'a store

When you’re building something from scratch, it usually starts with finding the right people who want to travel alongside you on the journey because they believe in the same mission.

This is what brought me to become a member of The Salvation Army’s Echelon Board. I wasn’t looking for another thing to add to my resume, but an opportunity to serve others alongside young professionals in the community.

Photo collage of echelon members at events

This was similar to my chocolate business, Choco le‘a. Which began when my Uncle Colins and Aunty Joan, started looking to the next generation to pass on their knowledge of chocolate making. My husband Chris and I rose to the opportunity, without any plan to build the company into the retail business it is today. We just wanted to spend time with family and learn their trade.

Looking back, I started my business and joined Echelon for the same reasons: the people. I’ve spent hours alongside other caring, young professionals serving meals to the homeless and organizing school supply drives for children in need. At Choco le‘a, my growing staff and I use chocolate to bring hope, love and joy to others.

Now as I step into my new role as chair of Echelon and continue leading Choco le‘a, I realize that in order to continue helping others in the community, I must surround myself with good people and invest my time in them. I look forward to another year of #DoingTheMostGood with our Echelon board and I can’t wait to see the positive impact we’re going to make in the community.

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