This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we’re highlighting men and women who play an important role in helping the American Red Cross fulfill its humanitarian mission every day. This week, we’d like to feature June Maeva, a dedicated Red Cross volunteer in American Samoa. Here is a conversation we had with her around Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and the importance of giving back.
Why is your Pacific American heritage important to you?
The Pacific American heritage is a rich culture of traditions and customs passed down from one generation to the next. Our Samoan culture teaches respect, “fa’aaloalo” in our language and is shown in the way we conduct ourselves. Our Samoan culture is also about the act of service which expresses and shows our love, “alofa,” towards our elders, families, villages and our community.
How and why did you get involved with the Red Cross?
During the aftermath of a 2009 tsunami, my children and I were here in American Samoa. There we helped my uncle, who works with the American Red Cross, clean up some of the damage and debris in the village of Leone. I had always wanted to be a part of the organization, but was too busy and worked full-time as a teacher. In February 2018, I registered to volunteer with the American Red Cross- American Samoa chapter.
What does it mean for you to give back?
The act of service gives me peace. It gives me a sense of purpose and gratitude. The American Red Cross allows me to continue teaching, to be a part of the action in solution, prevention and planning.
What is one thing you’d tell your 20-year old self?
I was living in the farming and agriculture area of Tulare, California, at the time. I was working full-time and raising my family, but my heart longed to be back here in American Samoa. I would tell that young mother and woman, you will have time, energy and an opportunity to volunteer and serve your people.
More good things are about to come!
What is your most memorable moment with the Red Cross?
I remember two days before Tropical Storm Gita in 2018, I was called to respond to a flood on the far east end of the island. We arrived to help a family of 10 receive aid and assistance. When we got in the house, we saw three children, ages 18 months to three years old, who were sitting on the kitchen table to avoid the 14 inches of rain water that flooded their home. I’ll never forget the look on their mother’s face when they received help and relief. Hugging her gave me comfort that I am where I am supposed to be.
Become a Volunteer
You can learn how to become a volunteer like June by visiting redcross.org.