For over 50 years, Kilauea resident Donna Schulze has helped youth as an instructor and administrator with the YMCA in California and then in Hawai’i.
One who loved being around children, she jumped at the chance to teach them how to run, swim and play soccer, and when not in the pool or on the field, she coordinated YMCA programs as a decision-maker
For a lifetime of service to the Christian-based organization, Schulze, 83, recently received the national B.P. “Boots” Faubion Award by the U.S. Area Y’s Men’s Clubs.
The award is given every two years to a full-time or retired YMCA professional for outstanding leadership, dedication and service to the organization.
Schulze is the first woman to win the prestigious award since its establishment in 1981.
On Wednesday, the Kaua‘i County Council presented her a certificate in recognition of a lifetime of work helping the YMCA and children.
The recognition and the national award took Schulze by surprise.
“I am shocked and amazed. I did all those things, but I never knew how they added up,” she said.
Leaders and members of East Kaua‘i Y’s Men’s Club and the YMCA of Kaua‘i attended the council meeting to show their support for Schulze, bedecked in leis and later photographed for the occasion.
She will receive the national award on July 14 at U.S. Area Y’s Men’s International Convention in Charleston, S.C. The YMCA will pay for her airfare and hotel lodging.
Tom Tannery, the executive director of the YMCA on Kaua‘i, said in nomination papers in April that Schulze should receive the award for a “lifetime of outstanding leadership.”
He said her accomplishments are “great by any standard, but her continued high level of involvement and commitment at the pr esent time is more than worthy of the honor.”
The council certificate noted Schulze was the first woman to be hired as an executive for the YMCA organization in San Diego, Calif. in 1950.
She eventually moved to Hawai‘i with her husband, George, to seek new adventures. But her interest in serving the YMCA never waned, she said.
In 1975, she became the first woman executive director of the YMCA in Hawai‘i, and after moving to Kaua’i, served as executive director of the YMCA of Kaua‘i for five years, Tannery said. She continues as a YMCA board member to this day.
Schulze also serves as the public relations chairperson for the YMCA in Hawai‘i and as the chairperson of the membership committee of the East Kaua‘i Y’s Men’s.
She also serves as the secretary on the YMCA board of directors.
She approaches administrative work and field work with the same energy and passion.
Schulze continues to volunteer as a swim instructor, and will be certified soon to teach water aerobics.
Schulze started the first YMCA/East Kaua‘i Y’s Men’s Club annual Youth Run, now in its 25th year.
A track coach at Kilauea Elementary School, Schulze has participated in 217 running contests and events, including four marathons. She participated in two “World Master Olympics” in Oregon and Finland in the past.
Schulze, who has said she has deep faith in the goodness of children, served as an advocate for at-risk children as a “Guardian Ad Litem” with the Family Court. She recently retired after 25 years of service.
She said she has only been able to serve the YMCA and the community as well as she has because of the support of her husband, her mate of more than 35 years and now in his 80s.
Schulze said she has slowed a bit with time, but she said she will do whatever it takes to make sure the YMCA remains a positive force on Kaua‘i.
“I will do what the YMCA wants me to do,” she said.
• Lester Chang, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or email@example.com.