Categorized | Business, Volunteering

Hilo’s Lily Inouye Presented Zontian Rose Award of Excellence


Lily Inouye

Lily Inouye

Hilo businesswoman and community volunteer Lily Yuriko Inouye has been awarded the Rose Award of Excellence by the Zonta Club of Hilo for her service.

The award was part of Zonta International’s observance of International Women’s Day. Zonta’s mission is to advance the status of women worldwide.

Inouye, 89, has been a principal of Floral Resources, Inc. since 1976 and a member of the Zonta Club of Hilo for 40 years. The Rose Award of Excellence is given to women who have made significant impact on the lives of others through their employment, volunteer activities and associations.

Throughout her life of service, Inouye has crusaded for children, for women, for families, for the disadvantaged, for cancer victims and for elders. She broke barriers of gender, race and persons of maturity, when at past 50 years old, she was named to the board of Homeland Ministries of the United Church of Christ. She went on to chair the national health and welfare division of the Church.

“I was able to do a lot of firsts,” Inouye said. “It was kind of scary at first, because all eyes are on you.” In 2007, at age 84, Inouye co-chaired the Zonta District Conference bringing women from Western States to the island.

She is indomitable and unsinkable, with an inner strength that inspires those around her. She is always hands-on. She does the organizing and the planning, but she also gets her hands dirty, willing to pitch in on the lowliest job.

She was one of the first women to be a volunteer cook for the Peanut Butter Ministry. She started the senior ministry at her church where elders could get a hot meal once a month and socialize with friends; she started a Qi Gong exercise class at the church. Inouye served the Hawaii Island United Way, and serves now on Hawaii County Committee on Aging and the Advisory Council of Aging and Disability Resource Center.

When she was with the Cancer Society, she was architect of the successful bike-a-thon, expanded the lending closet of equipment for cancer patients; with a Hilo College student, she developed an original play on cancer, making puppets with old socks. She recruited doctors for the Butterfly Van, which traveled to rural areas to do Pap tests for women.

“In looking back over the years, I was introduced to the mission of Zonta in 1974,” Inouye said. “It crystallized my vision as to how one can make a contribution to society. My involvement through other clubs and organizations…has helped me to become an enabler…”

Zontians donated a book to the Hilo Public Library in honor of Lily Inouye, more significant as she served as a governor-appointed Library Commissioner, and chair of the county-wide commission.

Each year, Inouye has played a part in the Zonta Club of Hilo tribute to the famous aviator Amelia Earhart, who was a member of Zonta International. The tree she planted in 1935 on Banyan Drive is a special place for Hilo Zontians. In 1985, Inouye spearheaded a plan to get air layerings of the banyan and had them shipped to Zonta International Headquarters.

When Inouye was president of Zonta Club of Hilo (1999-2003,) she led the Club to a second place finish in Zonta International’s recognition program by fulfilling all areas of International Service, Community Action, Membership, Newsletter and Club Management. Also while president, Inouye challenged the Club to step up to giving one-third of service funds raised by the group to the Zonta International Foundation. This continues today.

Inouye has served for many years as the Hilo’s chair of the Zonta International Strategies to Eradicate Violence Against Women and Children (ZISVAW) committee. At Inouye’s urging, Zonta Club of Hilo launched “Hands Are Not For Hitting” program. Club members read the book of the same name to preschool children, talk with them about things (besides hitting!) to do with their hands, and then make colorful handprint quilts with their messages.

The quilts are displayed at places such as the Hilo Public Library and the UH-Hilo Edward H. Mookini Library to draw attention to breaking the cycle of violence. Each child is given a “Hands Are Not For Hitting” book to share with family.

In appreciation of receiving the “Rose Award of Excellence”, Inouye contributed a yellow rose plant to add to the Zonta Club of Hilo Rose Garden at Hilo Medical Center, and contribution to Zonta International Foundation to support the eradication of violence against women program referred to at ZISVAW.

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