LIHUE — Toni Torres has had a deep love for Kauai’s people for many years. But when the nursing supervisor received a call from the YWCA she had no idea she would be one of four women to be honored for their contributions to the island.
“It’s interesting because you don’t think of what you do, you do it because it’s part of your work, it’s part of the community, and so to just be recognized is such an honor,” Torres said.
Due to their tremendous contributions to Kauai, Torres and artist Carol Ann Davis, water-safety instructor and surfer Laola Lake-Aea, and real estate broker Donna Apisa will be honored at the YWCA’s seventh annual Na Wahine Alakai O Kauai celebration.
Davis, Lake-Aea and Torres will receive the Na Wahine Alakai Award during the festivities. Apisa is set to receive the prestigious YWCA Perpetual Award for her years of contribution to the organization.
“Even though all of their accomplishments are different, all of their accomplishments are for the Kauai people,” said Rozetta Williams, YWCA grants manager.
As a public health nursing supervisor, Torres has worked with the state Department of Health in the areas of health and wellness, communicable disease and emergency preparedness.
“When there is a need, we react,” she said. “I do from critical thinking to strategic thinking on how to assist someone in need, or what the organization needs, or what the targeted population needs.”
In addition to her work at the DOH, she also was part of the group that started Project Grad for Waimea High School in 1997. She has been involved with Cub Scouts for many years as a “team mom” and badge counselor.
Torres has also been involved with West United Methodist Church as the Board of Trustees chairwoman, and is a member of KVMH Auxiliary.
“To me it’s a privilege when I’m able to assist someone,” she said.
Davis said that she’s honored to be recognized for her achievements and is more than happy to always help others.
Due to her love for art, Davis has been a part of multiple art organizations on Kauai. She was the president of the original Kauai Art Group in the 1960s and the founder of the Kauai Community Arts Council in 1965, and also served as chairwoman of the council.
She also started Portraits of Hawaii in 1987 with the help of her son Norman.
Davis has been a board member of many health and education organizations, including the Kauai Humane Society, the American Cancer Society, Kauai Community Players, Hawaii Alliance for Art Education, the League of Women Voters, the Kauai Women’s Center and the YWCA.
“I have a passion for helping others. It’s one of the things I enjoy more than anything else,” Davis said.
Some of the awards she has won for her service include the Kauai Humane Society Mahalo Award and Woman of the Year in the Arts in 1983.
“I’m really dedicated to Kauai,” Davis said. “I’m very concerned about environmental issues. I think there’s so many things we can do for our island to keep it beautiful. I love living on this island. It’s the most beautiful place in the world.”
Lake-Aea said that she is humbled to receive the award in the company of such wonderful women.
“It was a surprise, I was definitely blindsided by that nomination, and I feel especially honored for that nomination and grateful,” Lake-Aea said.
As a water safety instructor, Lake-Aea has contributed to Kauai by establishing a water safety program for the island’s outrigger canoe clubs.
“It’s very gratifying to know that you have helped someone achieve their personal goal,” she said.
Lake-Aea has also been on the Kauai Water Safety Task Force for more than 15 years. This year, she became a board member of the Kauai Lifeguard Association.
As the recipient of the YWCA Perpetual Award, Apisa has worked on the organization’s board of directors and was the president of the board for two years. She was also involved in the YWCA’s purchase of the former Kauai Community Federal Credit Union building, which now houses the YWCA offices.
Apisa is president and principal broker of Oceanfront Realty. She saw the beauty of individuals helping one another in her former home, a small community on the Mainland, and copied their example.
“It’s very similar to the lifestyle on Kauai where people just help each other with the aloha spirit, and it feels like the right thing to do,” Apisa said.
This will be the third time the organization has presented the Perpetual Award.
YWCA Executive Director Renae Hamilton said she is amazed by the accomplishments of the four women, and is looking forward to honoring them at the celebration. The recipients will also receive certificates from Gov. David Ige government offices.
The celebration will take place Thursday at the Courtyard Marriott in Kapaa and will feature live entertainment, dinner and a silent auction. Doors open at 5 p.m. Those who are planning to attend must RSVP by Monday.