KILAUEA — Retirement is a foreign concept to 75-year-old Kilauea
resident Donna Schulze.
Over the last 30 years, she worked as a teacher and
as an executive director of the YWCA.
Now she is retired and devoting more
time to her passion— volunteer work.
She helps at-risk youths stay out of
trouble, teaches youths how to swim and play soccer and works with her
husband of 28 years on community projects.
“Retirement means different
things to people,” Donna said. “To us, retirement means getting to do more of
the things we choose to do.”
Without volunteers, she says, many programs
sponsored by the government wouldn’t get off the ground.
She takes pride
in being a volunteer “Guardian Ad Litem” with the Family Court.
capacity, she has been an advocate for abused and neglected youths.
works with social workers to help put broken families back together.
have seen hundreds of kids, and they all need love,” she said. “I try to
Through the East Kaua’i Y’s Club, a Christian-based service
club to the YMCA, Donna and her husband, George, 78, work on community projects
like repairing damaged buildings.
Donna also serves on the board of
directors of the American Heart Association.
She coaches a track team in
Kilauea and teaches youths and adults how to swim at a pool in
“I have the time and ability to volunteer,” she said.
“And I only volunteer in places where I fit in.”
Kaua’i was the place
where she learned the importance of volunteerism, Donna said.
coming to Kaua’i, she and her husband lived in Ohio, where he worked as a
machinist. One day they decided they wanted a new life.
“You might say we
got tired of shoveling snow,” George said. “We wanted some place with sunshine
and where it was warm. Kaua’i was it.”
They arrived on the island in 1972.
Donna had just graduated with a degree in physical education from Oregon
State, but couldn’t find work right away.
Her first job was as a volunteer
with the YMCA on Kaua’i. With the help of her husband, she was able to conduct
swimming classes in pools at condominiums he managed in Po’ipu and
She also served as the executive director of the YMCA from 1975
and 1980, becoming the first woman in the state to hold an executive position
with that organization.
For 25 years, she worked as a contract and
substitute school teacher with the state Department of Education. She taught
at Hanalei, Kalaheo, Wilcox and Kaua’i elementary schools and Kaua’i High
When she wasn’t teaching or volunteering, she focused her
attention on running.
Her love for long-distance running dates back to the
early 1970s, when she attended Oregon State. She ran with men because there
were no running programs for women at the time.
Since 1978, Donna has run
in 200 races ranging from a few miles to 26 miles, including master races on
the Mainland and in Europe with her husband.
Between 1978 and 1984, she
and her husband ran in two Honolulu marathons, a marathon on Kaua’i and one
The couple is most proud of their participation in the 1978
Honolulu Marathon, their first.
“We went dancing after we finished,”
The couple has stayed in shape because they eat right, get
enough sleep and have deep religious convictions and a positive attitude about
life, Donna said.
“If you want your body to stay healthy, you have to make
it move. That is the key. “
Life also is rich and full because of their
strong commitment to each other, she said.
George, a bus driver for the
last 19 years, and Donna had children from previous marriages. Together, they
have seven grown children, 15 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
“We have a very good life together,” Donna said. “The important thing is that
we care for each other and understand each other’s needs.”
husband’s support, she said she probably couldn’t be as active in her volunteer
work as she is.
Volunteering on Kaua’i is easy because the island ” is a
wonderful place” and “because the people here are wonderful,” she
What plans do the Schulzes have for the future?
Volunteering,” Donna said.