Shocked is the only word to describe Julie Uyemura upon learning of her President’s Volunteer Service Award. Created by President George W. Bush and the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, the award program is a way to honor Americans who demonstrate commitment and inspire others to engage in volunteer service, and is one of the nation’s highest civilian honors.
“I knew I was receiving an award, but I really never understood what kind of an award it was,” Uyemura recalls with a laugh. “After receiving the award, I came home and Googled it, since everything that U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo (seen above presenting her the acknowledgment on behalf of the president) said was totally a blur. Then it hit me: Wow! I really am honored, and still today I am flattered and totally speechless.”
The Waipio Outback Steakhouse managing partner was recognized for her tireless commitment to anti-drug initiatives in the Mililani community, becoming one of only 17 individuals from Hawaii to earn this distinction. Uyemura says that since she started at the Outback location six years ago, she and her staff have helped out with about 50 events.
“We call it ‘Grassroots Marketing,’ where we use our marketing dollars to help, sponsor and give back to our community,” she explains, adding that they also have sponsored sports teams; given books, computers and other supplies to area schools; and worked with Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Tony Group, American Heart Association, the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii, the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
“My biggest thing is to make an impact on someone’s life,” the Punahou grad states. “That is what being a part of Outback is all about. We want the Outback Steakhouse in Waipio to be known as their favorite place to eat, drink, relax and be with friends.”
When Uyemura isn’t busy working 55- to 65-hour weeks, she is planning her January nuptials - with no wedding planner. The frequent flier would one day like to travel to Japan, but in ventures closer to home enjoys having the traditional sit-down meal with her older sister, younger brother, their families and her parents.
“Family means the world to me,” Uyemura says. “I also think of my staff and managers as part of my family. Life is too short, so I appreciate what I have.”
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