Joe Schneckenburger: Giving So Others Can Be Nourished and Find Hope

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”



For Joe Schneckenburger, it was the natural order of things: he bought property on Hawaii Island and then went looking for ways to lend a hand and get involved. It didn’t take long to find Raghel Santiago feeding the homeless on the Kona pier—offering food, supplies, and words of inspiration to those who gathered every week.

Raghel and her family had arrived in Kona for their work with The Salvation Army when they watched a homeless man eat from the trash can on the pier. With no Army budget for the effort, they started the weekly supper with their personal funds, cooking for and feeding all those who showed up every Thursday.

Joe knew what he needed to do.

“Her story — how she saw the need and just set about meeting it — was so compeIling,” he says. “I didn’t want her using her own money,” particularly when the program grew as more and more people in need showed up.

Joe made the initial donation of seed money to fund the program, and then followed with a pledge to match subsequent funds raised. He laughs, recalling how he handed Raghel a nickel one afternoon after seeing what she was doing, and then immediately followed up with a check for $4,999.95 as the seed money. “I’ve learned in life and in business that you have to start somewhere,” he says, “and that first nickel was that start.”

Thanks to Raghel’s determination and Joe’s support, the program outgrew the pier and now operates from a more permanent location at the old airport, where dozens of attendees gather every week for supper and “church time,” as it’s come to be called. Attendees nourish their bodies and souls, and volunteers assist them in finding housing, jobs, and other services.

“I could never do what Raghel does,” Joe says, “so I give the money so she and The Salvation Army can do the work that they do.” As his business has grown, so have Joe’s contributions to The Salvation Army, both on Hawaii Island and back in Colorado. When asked why, he quotes Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

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