Enjoying his plate of kalua pork and cabbage at the Pahoa Community Center, Del plays through the past two months like a silent movie in his head. He spent years as a volunteer for disaster relief organizations—nourishing his passion to help those in need. But now, after lava engulfed his home in Leilani Estates, he finds himself in a different position. “It’s come full circle,” says Del. “I’ve always been on the other side of this, signing up as a volunteer to help others get through the worst that happens. But now, the worst has happened to me and I’m the one being helped.”
After volcanic eruptions surged lava through Leilani Estates, destroying homes and displacing families, Del and many others found themselves in Pahoa’s the community shelters—where The Salvation Army is offering meals, hydration and emotional and spiritual care. Pushing around threads of pit-smoked pork and wilted cabbage on his plate, Del tries to piece together a plan to move forward—where to go, where to live, what to do.
“I’m not as nimble as I used to be,” he explains. “Being as old as I am, I have difficulty moving from place to place, so I’m here now, and I’m so happy that The Salvation Army is with us throughout the day to make sure we’re eating.”
He smiles and laughs. His positive attitude—the inspired outlook from a perpetual volunteer—helps uplift others in his same situation. “We’re seeing everyday people look out for each other,” Del says, “and bring food for others to eat—great food too! This kalua pig is as good, if not better, than anything else I’ve had. It’s amazing to have this at a shelter.”
Even in this time of crisis, Del continues to help his neighbors. He tells jokes to liven spirits and checks in on those around him. “Disasters have an interesting way of bringing people and organizations like The Salvation Army together, and bringing the best out of everyone to help push us forward,” Del explains. “I think that’s what we need most right now, and it’s something we can all do.”