2014 is a year of transition for me. Life is different, but in many ways the same; the passing of seasons is subtle here, but they do gently change.
Being back in the neighborhood has allowed me to reconnect with the community, and rediscover my roots, which run deep after almost 35 years in Hawaii.
I have been so honored by the support and recognition of friends, colleagues and community.
I was appointed to the Mililani Neighborhood Board #25, and recently was elected to the District 1 seat I held many years ago.
Mayor Caldwell appointed me as his representative to the Mililani Mauka Neighborhood Board, a Board I have attended faithfully for several years, and a part of the community I know well. The Mayor also appointed me to the Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG committee of the city. The group reviews and chooses where federal monies designated for community needs will go.
Governor Abercrombie appointed me to the Commission on the Status of Women, and the Senate unanimously confirmed me. Many thanks to friends and colleagues who submitted testimony on my behalf.
Following up on my work on behalf of victims, I was selected to sit on the board of directors of the Friends of the Missing Child Center. This seems so appropriate with the recent rash of abductions and worse in Cleveland.
I continue my work as a member of the board of the Friends of Mililani Public Library, and as president of the Central Oahu Caregivers Support Group, and in addition belong to the Soroptimists of Central Oahu and the Mililani Lions, two excellent service organizations.
I produce two shows a month on our community access network, Olelo. “Kukui Connection” has been running for almost 10 years, and features political issues, community issues, and issues of culture and the arts; I have interviewed many interesting and knowledgeable guests. Community Access TV is a treasure, which I will fight to preserve.
I have been overwhelmed with gratitude for the awards and recognition I received after leaving the House of Representatives.
Members of the Women’s Community surprised me with a wonderful luncheon celebrating a proclamation of MARILYN B LEE day by the Governor. So many friends and colleagues got up to speak about me, including Senator Schatz and Mayor Caldwell. What an honor!
Planned Parenthood of Hawaii recognized my work on Women’s Health at their Annual Dinner, and presented me with the first annual Marilyn B. Lee Award; unbelievably, this will become an annual award by Planned Parenthood. Then, in April, the Hawaii Women Lawyers presented me with their prestigious “Lifetime Achievement Award” at their annual meeting. A beautiful plaque with a lovely seashell motif is something I will keep forever.
My colleagues in the House, Senate, community organization, and both neighborhood boards also honored me for my work.
A thoughtful friend showed me how to begin composting with worms and lent me his homemade box. My garden in Mililani has never looked better. I harvest lettuce, spinach, tomatoes eggplant and cucumbers regularly, and am thinking of becoming a beekeeper!
It goes without saying that I miss my wonderful partner of 45 years, Sam, but in many ways he is still here---a brilliant, yet humble guy who taught me so much and who was extremely proud of our children, our marriage, and of my work in the community and Legislature.
I do miss the challenge of the Legislature, and there is much that remains undone, especially in the areas of victims rights, the status of women, legislation facilitating the work of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, long term care and kupuna welfare. I learned a lot from my friend Marcus Oshiro while serving as Vice Chair of the Finance Committee for 8 years, and have become a bit more of a fiscal conservative.
I am happy, healthy, and have the energy that kept me going on those late nights at the capitol. I want to continue to be a part of the future of our beloved Hawaii and the beautiful community of Mililani.