LIHUE — National Tropical Botanical Gardens’ Ochibana volunteer Merilee Buehler received the President’s Volunteer Service Award.
As a Silver Honoree, she received a certificate from President Donald Trump and a pin.
Out of 80 volunteers, 24 received the silver honoree award, said Donna Olivas-Kaohi, of the Kauai Agency on Eldery Affairs.
The President’s Volunteer Service Award was founded in 2003 to help highlight groups and individuals who make a difference in their communities.
Buehler racked up over 250 hours of community service in three years at the NTBG in Kalaheo. Since the early ’80s, Buechler and her husband have traveled to Haiti every year with Army doctors to prepare all their meals.
“She has always been such a generous person since I have known her. The Haiti trips take insane amounts of coordination to feed all the doctors and staff that go to provide free medical care,” said her friend, Marianne Martin.
When asked what her next volunteer project is, Buehler said, “Our group, Ochibana, creates handmade items that are sold at our Botanical Gardens in Kalaheo. I make around 100 zipper bags at a time. All proceeds go back into the gardens which is pretty cool.”
There was a ceremony in her honor hosted by the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Buehler regrets not being able to go.”
I wish I knew how prestigious it was going to be, I heard the mayor was there,” she said I would have tried to make it. Even though I didn’t do it for recognition, I appreciate it a lot. It feels like after all the volunteer work I put in over the years, it is finally appreciated.”