Kauaʻi Red Cross 2023 Volunteer of the Year deployed to Wisconsin to help Afghan refugees

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Kauaʻi Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami presented Michael Crane with a proclamation as the 2023 Volunteer of the Year for the Kauaʻi Red Cross on March 20, 2023. L-R: Kauaʻi Red Cross Director Padraic Gallagher, Kawakami and Crane. Photo: Daren Jenner/For Kauaʻi Now

In September 2021, Kauaʻi Red Cross volunteer Matthew Crane was asked to deploy to Wisconsin to help with the resettlement of Afghan refugees.

The Afghans, including many families with children, had just fled their home country during the United States’ withdrawal of troops. Most feared for their lives as the local government was being overrun by the Taliban.

At U.S. Army Fort McCoy, Crane worked for two weeks to distribute comfort supplies, including blankets and personal hygiene items, to the thousands of refugees housed at the base.


For this deployment — and for twice helping to set up and staff emergency shelters and other work on Kauaʻi — Crane was selected as the Kaua’i Red Cross 2023 Volunteer of the Year.

On Monday, Crane was among the Red Cross volunteers honored at a ceremony at the Līhuʻe Civic Center. Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami presented him with a proclamation for his service.

The Kaua’i Red Cross team also received a proclamation for its service.

Kauaʻi Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami (center) presented the Kauaʻi Red Cross volunteers with a proclamation for their service on March 20, 2023. Photo: Daren Jenner/For Kauaʻi Now

On Friday, Crane also will be honored at the Red Crossʻ Heroes Event at the Kauaʻi Beach Resort. Kawakami and several Kauaʻi County Council members are scheduled to attend.

“A loyal volunteer, Matthew is always willing to help out wherever needed, even rearranging his schedule to meet the needs of the moment,” said Padraic Gallagher, director of the Kaua’i Red Cross.

Gallagher said Craneʻs contributions include helping with logistics and becoming the only volunteer qualified to drive Red Cross emergency response vehicles.

Daren Jenner
Daren Jenner has eight years of journalism experience, most recently has a frequent contributor to The Phuket News in Thailand. He is a retired firefighter and has 17 years of experience as an EMS paramedic and instructor. He has lived on Kauaʻi for five years.
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