The Hawaii County Citizen Corps Council decided to acknowledge the first anniversary since the eruption of Kilauea volcano ended with a Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon to honor volunteers who selflessly offered their time and efforts to individuals and communities affected by the 2018 eruption.
These local heroes were honored and celebrated by their peers Sept. 20 at Aunty Sally’s Luau Hale in Hilo.
The Hawaii County Citizen Corps consists of various organizations and government agencies. It harnesses the power of every individual through education, training and volunteer service to make communities safer, stronger and better prepared to respond to the threat of terrorism, crime, public health issues and disasters.
Local volunteers were deployed during the eruption and aided individuals and communities facing the historic crisis. These dedicated volunteers are from the American Red Cross, Community Emergency Response Team, Voluntary Fire Department, Hawaii Lava Flow Animal Network, Medical Reserve Corps, Neighborhood Watch, Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, the Faith Hui, Just Serve and the Bodacious Women of Puna.
These volunteers were the essential aspects of the county’s disaster response. They made sure affected individuals received the assistance they needed during the disaster.
They staffed information centers and disaster shelters, prepared warm meals for victims, cleaned the facilities, provided emotional support, ensured safety of residents by visiting their homes, escorted individuals to evacuation areas, distributed air masks and took care of pets and livestock. Some of them are working on the long-term recovery team.
Close to 90 volunteers, who were nominated by each organization, were in attendance. Fifteen people were honored for their exceptional volunteer efforts during the Kilauea eruption. The honorees are:
• Greg Armstrong, CERT.
• Suzi Bond, VOAD.
• Ronnette Gonsalves, Bodacious Women of Puna.
• Judi Houle, Neighborhood Watch/CERT.
• Victor Leonardi, VOAD.
• Dennis and Sharon McCartin, CERT.
• Beth Murph, VOAD/Faith Hui.
• Bette Oberman-Hunter, Neighborhood Watch.
• Wendy Okazaki, VOAD/Faith Hui.
• Patti Pinto, CERT.
• Shane Russell, American Red Cross.
• Pat Steffen, CERT.
• Angie Woods, VOAD/Faith Hui.
Also honored was Bill Hanson from Hawaii County Civil Defense. Hanson is the liaison between these groups and the county.
State Rep. Joy San Buenaventura and state Sen. Russell Ruderman were in attendance to present certificates from the state House and Senate to organizations and individuals for their outstanding contributions to the Puna community during the 2018 lava crisis.