HANAMAULU — Padraic Gallagher asked this question Friday night at the Kauai Centennial Heroes Pau Hana: What is the most precious resource we have?
Not coffee, said the director of disaster services for Kauai, laughing. Not gold. Not oil. Not even people.
“It’s time,” Gallagher said to about 50 people at the Aqua Kauai Beach Resort who were honored with praise and prizes during the two-hour gathering. “You can’t get it back.”
The time given to Red Cross is time taken from family, from friends, from yourself, he said.
“You guys give away your hours and you will never get that hour back,” he continued. “But you give it away.”
That hour can be measured in 60 minutes, but it can’t be measure in how helpful it is, the impact it has.
“I applaud all of you for giving away something you know you’ll never get back,” Gallagher said to the room full of Red Cross volunteers. “I thank you for all the work you did over the past year.”
The Volunteer of the Year award went to Anna Myers of Princeville. She has been a disaster services volunteer on Kauai for the past two years and the “go-to” volunteer for the North Shore shelter in Hanalei.
“During this time, she has deployed to Hanalei nearly 15 times, many of which were in the very early morning or late evening. Almost every time, she has had to deploy in less than 45 minutes with the knowledge that a deployment to Hanalei may mean she might not return home for days because the road is flooded,” according to the Red Cross program brochure.
Anna and her husband, Tom, also a Red Cross volunteer, have been great, Gallagher said. It goes beyond their hours and dedication. It’s their heart, he said.
“They have always answered the call,” Gallagher said.
In April 2015, Anna Myers was in Kathmandu when an earthquake struck Nepal and killed nearly 9,000 and injured about 22,000.
Instead of fleeing, she stayed.
“I found I had the strength and the resources to stay and help,” Myers said.
Next year, she joined Red Cross on Kauai.
“I enjoy helping people,” she said.
In 2017, she traveled Florida and volunteered two weeks there when the state was hammered by Hurricane Irma.
“They needed volunteers so badly they would bring me to Florida,” she said, smiling.
“It was the hardest work I’ve ever done. At the same time, I was really happy I did it,” she said.
And last year when the North Shore was devastated by the April flooding, she was there, working at the shelter on short notice, keeping officials informed of the dangerous situation and checking on the needs of people. All this, while her own new truck was filling with rising waters and those waters came within inches of entering the shelter.
“Her only focus was the well-being of those affected and how she could help them,” the program said.
Myers deflected the credit tossed her way.
“I’m doing what I love to do. My heart is in helping people and I know that’s where all of you are to,” she said. “The Red Cross does so much for everyone, so I’d just like to honor all of you.”
Randy Blake, another Red Cross volunteer who usually works in the emergency operations enter, said it was always comforting to know Tom and Anna Myers were on the scene, helping execute plans.
“It’s a wonderful privilege to be able to have Anna on the other end of the line and answer my calls,” he said.
Gallagher said Kauai’s volunteers logged almost 25,000 hours responding to an array of disasters, including the flooding and fires. It delivered clothing, blankets and provided places to stay.
“So many don’t know all Red Cross does,” he said.
Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami read from a proclamation that said March was American Red Cross Month.
The county and the Red Cross have a great partnership, the mayor added.
“There is no other organization that is as worthy as the American Red Cross,” he said.
Kauai County Councilwoman Felicia Cowden, who lives on the North Shore, said it was an intense year there.
“We wouldn’t be anywhere without you,” she said. “That was so important, what you did. I hold you in my heart deeply for that.
“The whole island thanks you,” Cowden added.
Coralie Matayoshi, regional CEO of American Red Cross, said volunteers are the “heart and soul of the Red Cross.”
During the April flooding, “you were there I just can’t thank you enough,” she said.
Gallagher said Red Cross volunteers like the Myers “put my mind at ease.”
“They know the job. I don’t have to second-guess anything. I know they’re going to do it,” he said. “I know they’re going to answer the phone when I call in the middle of the night. They’re just always there.”
Source: The Garden Island