When Disaster Strikes

It’s Red Cross Month, and Ed Teixeira of Civil Defense, HPD Chief Boisse Correa and HFD Chief Attilio Leonardi join Coralie Matayoshi, Red Cross executive director, in saluting the organization that is always there when flood, fire, hurricane or other disaster strikes Hawaii.

Susan Sunderland
Wednesday - March 02, 2005
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Coralie Chun Matayoshi deals with disaster daily in her job. Is she a glutton for punishment?

No, it’s a role she’s chosen as CEO of the Hawaii Chapter of American Red Cross, a volunteer organization that runs strictly on charity and compassion. That would seem to be a formula for failure, but after a year on the job, Matayoshi is showing how businesslike efficiency can propel community service to its next level of greatness.

But this is not one woman’s story. The American Red Cross has existed for over a century, helping victims cope with the effects of natural or manmade disasters. There are thousands of volunteers involved — disaster diplomats — who are unsung heroes.

Matayoshi is at the helm of Hawaii’s chapter at a critical juncture when global security and citizen preparedness are paramount to our quality of life. We live in perilous times, and organizations like the American Red Cross can no longer be taken for granted, according to U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.

Certainly, this is not intended to strike fear in the hearts of citizens. But events such as 9/11, tsunami devastation in Southeast Asia, and flooding in Manoa raise one’s consciousness of safety and emergency preparedness.

Where do we turn for guidance? One source is the American Red Cross, a stealth force that has been dealing with disasters in our community for many, many years. Who better to teach us how to respond and cope than an agency whose mission is preventing and alleviating human suffering?

And what better time to reacquaint ourselves with this amazing organization than March, National Red Cross month? “Hats Off to the American Red Cross” on Friday and Saturday will mark the occasion with information and festivity.


Matayoshi says, “It’s a time when we take notice of all the support provided to the community by the local Red Cross and its volunteers. We are asking the public to show their appreciation through generous donations.”

Kickoff is Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Tamarind Park downtown. The lunch-hour crowd can enjoy food, entertainment, and informational displays on disaster services, health and safety programs, water safety, Armed Forces emergency services, and volunteer opportunities. Off-duty police officers, firefighters, civil defense, military, and other volunteers will salute the Red Cross for its work in the community.

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