Red Cross sets aside day to thank and honor volunteers
On Saturday, April 5, American Red Cross of American Samoa (ARCAS) hosted a special Day of Thanks to acknowledge community volunteers for their hard work throughout the year.
The Volunteer Appreciation Day included acknowledgment of government First Responder agencies such as the Department of Public Safety and TEMCO/ Homeland Security, as well as the Fire Department and EMS. A motorcade which included Miss American Samoa was organized in tribute.
Present at the awards were American Samoa EPA with literature on environmental protection, and nurses from Department of Health taking vital signs and distributing information on prenatal care.
The SOFIA organization was also well represented as a strong supporter of ARCAS, as a few months ago, they had donated $1,000 for the local disaster fund, and an NHS Volunteer student from South Pacific Academy rode along in the motorcade, fulfilling his longtime dream of riding in a FireTruck.
Also on that day, Vaito’a Hans Langkilde, who has been a member of many community service groups throughout the years and currently chairs the local Red Cross board, was the recipient of a very special award.
The award was given to the Most Outstanding Volunteer, and it was the first ever for the local Red Cross.
“I’m humbled and honored to receive this award, and will continue to serve the Red Cross as best I can, to help carry out the mission to serve our community,” he told those present, thanking them for their very kind acknowledgement.
Val Tuilefano, Branch Manager of the Red Cross headquarters in Tafuna, along with Volunteer Kim Pili and Volunteer Coordinator/Board Member Poe Mageo presented the award, which included a Vest with a special meaning.
Active Volunteers had voted on and supported the decision to give the honor to Vaito'a, and he was not aware of it until that day.
"As the Chairman of the local Red Cross unit, Vaito’a has personally met all the volunteers," said Tuilefano. "He has shown full support throughout the year by working alongside most of them in all aspects of our local Red Cross work."
As part of the award ceremony, Vaito’a was given a red vest which once belonged to Lt. Charlene Felkley, who is currently the Marine Operations Coordinator at the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa.
Lt. Felkley told Samoa News that she had received the vest in Hawaii from the Red Cross, as a volunteer shelter worker during the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana (which occurred just before Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast.)
Lt. Felkley is a member of the NOAA Commissioned Corps, one of the seven commissioned services. The NOAA Corps provides the platforms for NOAA scientists to conduct research; they drive the boats and fly the planes which aid the scientists as they work on fisheries and weather data, and atmospheric, marine mammal, and coral research.
She told Samoa News, “I have been a volunteer for the ARC since 2010. I’ve worn many hats at the RC including: Hotline Volunteer, Shelter worker, Disaster Responder, and Shelter Manager. I think it takes some amazing qualities to be a volunteer: compassion, adaptability, leadership, and hope. We all have something to offer when people are in need. And the truth is, I get more out of volunteering than the people I help.”
Lt. Felkley donated the vest as part of the award, and in response, Vaito’a said that he was honored, privileged and moved to receive it that day, calling it both ‘sentimental and meaningful.’
“I will continue this tradition and present it to the next person for next year's Volunteer Appreciation Day,” he said.