The American Red Cross is proud to congratulate its 2021 Volunteer Heroes! Each hero exemplifies the ideal that we are all stronger as a community when we work together to help each other in times of need.
First, from the Big Island, the Red Cross honors Gilbert Aquino. A true behind-the-scenes hero, Aquino joined the Red Cross in response to the lava eruption of 2018 and has become the logistic lead for the island. With his extensive Red Cross training, Aquino has helped aid in disaster relief both at home and by being deployed nationwide, including the cascade fires in Oregon last year.
Secondly, from Oahu, is Ryan Yamane, a mission hero. Yamane has served with the red cross for over 14 years and specializes in psychological first aid. He has been active in both local and national disaster relief efforts, including Las Vegas in 2017, Hurricane Olivia, and the Dillingham airfield crash in 2019. Yamane leads by example with his dedication to serving others.
The third hero has been with the red cross for over 30 years! Steve Soltysik, on Kauai, furthers Red Cross relief efforts through his work in logistics ensuring smooth operations and delivery of services. He has also been a big part of the success of meal delivery for COVID-19 patients in quarantine and isolation. Soltysik is always willing to help his neighbor as best he can.
The fourth hero is a full-time Chaminade student who still makes time to volunteer. Timothy Dunstan embodies the heart of the Red Cross mission, stepping up to take the lead in a variety of casework. After the Diamond head shooting, Dunstan worked tirelessly to meet with impacted residents and liaising with the police. In 2020, he even assisted a family from Alaska in returning home after being stranded in American Samoa for three months during lockdown.
The fifth hero has earned her distinction in services to the armed forces. Upon retiring, Jaclyn Whelen took on the lead role of managing the volunteer program at Tripler Army Medical Center. She is always ready to provide comfort and care to service members, veterans and their families during crisis. Whelen’s generous spirit has touched numerous lives and made a difference that cannot be measured.
Finally, the sixth honoree represents a new generation of red cross heroes. Kylie Alarcon is the Red Cross Youth Hero. She began volunteering with the Red Cross at age 13 and recently, at 18, founded the University of Hawaii Red Cross Club. Throughout 2020, she provided aloha wellness calls and multiple virtual CPR classes for fellow volunteers. Alarcon is a valuable member of the Red Cross and is now a mentor to other youth volunteers.
A heartfelt mahalo to each of the Red Cross Volunteer Heroes! Your dedication and compassion are what allow the Red Cross of Hawaii to help so many in their time of need.