WAILUKU - A Hale Makua Wailuku volunteer has been named the inaugural "Volunteer Hero" in a county Volunteer Center pilot program to honor on a quarterly basis those who selflessly serve the community.
Lillian Murakami was selected "for her dedication and selfless giving" to the facility, a news release on the award said.
The Wailuku resident began volunteering at Hale Makua 13 years ago, when her mother became a resident at the long-term care facility. Although her mother died, she continues to visit the facility from six to eight hours daily.
Nicknamed a "road runner," Murakami helps residents select their meals for the week, escorts them to the dining area, serves meals and talks story with them.
"Lillian is the core of the Hale Makua Wailuku volunteers," said Paula Iiams, director of volunteer services at the facility. "The biggest thing she does to help Hale Makua is battle the three plagues of our residents - loneliness, boredom and helplessness."
Murakami said her time at Hale Makua "makes me feel good."
"Hale Makua is like family to me," she said. "I encourage all retirees to volunteer. It keeps you busy and young."
Wendy Stebbins, the Volunteer Center coordinator, chose Murakami for the first award after the latter's name surfaced as a nominee for the Volunteer Spirit Award, given annually to Maui County volunteers.
"Heroes" offers an opportunity "to recognize volunteers on an ongoing basis," not just once a year, Stebbins said.
She plans eventually to use an advisory panel to help with selections. Nominations currently are being solicited for the next "hero."
Selection criteria are quite broad, saluting "someone who goes above and beyond," Stebbins said. A news release said the program "recognizes individuals for their outstanding service and commitment to the community."
Each "hero" receives a certificate and a small gift, and is highlighted on the county website, she said.
To nominate a volunteer, send e-mail to email@example.com or call 270-7150.
For information on volunteering in Maui County, see www.mauicounty.gov/volunteercenter.
To volunteer at Hale Makua, call 873-6616.