Cultivating Meaningful Moments with REHAB Volunteer, Brenda Li

Brenda Li
Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Brenda Li always knew that she wanted to do something meaningful in her retirement. After nearly 40 years working as a clinical psychologist focused on child welfare issues, her decision to retire came with the personal condition that she use the newfound free time to give back to her community. “I’ve always loved art but never really had the chance to explore it as much as I would have liked,” Brenda shares. “So, when I was reading Midweek magazine and came across an article about REHAB’s Creative Arts Program, I felt very inspired and thought, wouldn’t it be great to serve my community in an artistic setting? I called REHAB up that day to see if I could volunteer!”

Brenda joined REHAB’s volunteers in 2016 and has since been an active advocate and support for numerous programs. What started as volunteering for the Creative Arts Program (CAP) led her to get involved with the Stroke Support Group and Hui Malama Po`o crafting group as well. “Just like in my career, I love working with people and being part of a team. It’s important to me to be involved with meaningful change and I think REHAB has a purpose that is well-worth contributing my time to,” Brenda says. For her, volunteering at REHAB is a symbiotic relationship. “I find that volunteer work gives you a new life in a sense, and is incredibly gratifying. I have made friends and even took up painting because of my years spent watching Reuben teach at the Creative Arts Program.”  

Today, Brenda is a talented “rock painter” and has co-led the CAP and Stroke Support Group in a joint rock painting workshop–which was a massive hit amongst participants. It is times like these, where the community is gathered and abuzz with camaraderie, that Brenda enjoys the most. “Every time someone shares with me how far they’ve come, the steps they’re taking and the ways they are progressing–those moments are very important to me. To have built that trust with people and share in their story is a beautiful thing.”

Brenda’s hope for the future of REHAB’s volunteer program is just that more people of all ages and backgrounds will feel called to join. She says, “If you have any apprehension at all, just jump right in and do it! Volunteering alongside people who have a similar heart and really helping people rebuild their lives and regain confidence and hope–that is meaningful.”

Originally from the island of Maui, Brenda moved to Oahu to pursue her degree in psychology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. When not at REHAB, she enjoys spending time with her family, painting, reading, and volunteering with other mission-aligned organizations like Friends of the Library and Touch a Heart.


Interested in volunteering at REHAB? Visit our volunteer page to learn more about how you can get involved.