When American Red Cross volunteer Linda Morris was scheduled to head home to Oregon after spending two weeks helping to staff a shelter housing people who had been evacuated after the Kilauea volcano began spewing lava in early May, she didn't want to go.
Several residents of the shelter in the big island's County of Hawaii Kea'au Armory didn't want Linda to leave, either. Sheyenne, who had been living in the shelter with her five children, sang "Oli Mahalo," the "Thank You Song" to Linda and both started to cry.
Other shelter residents made sure they had their photos taken with Linda, who has volunteered for the Red Cross Cascades Region in Oregon since October 2017.
Linda said she loved the experience of working in the shelter, even though she and the other Red Cross volunteers who staffed the shelter in partnership with the County of Hawaii were sleeping a few miles away on cots in the own shelter.
"So many heart-warming stories and experiences I will cherish forever coming from my deployment to Hawaii at the volcano," Linda said. "The aloha spirit is alive and flowing from the people who lost everything under the lava forever," she said. Linda said she hopes she brought hope and joy, and silliness, to the residents to lift them up and help them "forget even just for a while" the seriousness of their situation. "It makes one realize how fragile our Mother Earth really is and how resilient we can be," she said.
There was at least one upside to Linda's departure from Hawaii.
"I made it home safely to be with my family on 4th of July," she said.
By Red Cross volunteer Barbara Wood