Friendship without borders

Rebecca Kelley

Fri July 25, 2014 10:36am

Lily, Ricky & Bella

Sunday, Aug. 3, marks the 56th anniversary of International Friendship Day. Albert Camus once said, “Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” “As a friend, I’m supportive, trusting, respectful and loyal.”
Lily was born and raised in San Diego, living in Miami, Florida, off and on for over 20 years.
“Prior to joining the mayor and council offices, I was a flight attendant. I had the pleasure of serving passengers on both Challenge International Airlines and United Airlines. You meet so many amazing people with incredible stories, working for the airlines.”
I met Lily when I was appointed to the city’s International Friendship Commission. Lily has served as the International Friendship Commission’s secretary for nearly a decade.
“Our City has three sister cities: Odawara, Japan; Irapuato, Mexico; and Cebu, Philippines. Some of our city’s friendships with these cities span more than three decades. It’s great to see how welcoming and hospitable Chula Vistans are to different cultures and people. I’ve also had the opportunity to attend a few conferences and delegations with the commission. Other cities and countries are so friendly and respectful. They want to establish true friendships with Chula Vista.”  
When Lily isn’t welcoming you to the mayor and council offices, or taking notes at an International Friendship Commission meeting, she’s spending time with the Citizens Adversity Support Team.
“I’ve been volunteering for the past five years with CAST. As a trained CAST volunteer, I provide around-the-clock trauma coverage and support for the community. Everything from emotional support to assisting families with their unique needs in time of trauma, I’m here to help.”
Lily’s warm smile and outgoing personality are infectious. The friendship lily (flower) is symbolic to Lily Cesena and the friendship she shares. Friendship lilies are flowering plants with wide green leaves. The white flowers on their tall stems symbolize a white flag on a pole, which references peace. Treat your friendships as you would tend to a friendship lily. Nourish them and love them, because if not, the plant will not survive and neither will your friendship.
A fact that many might not know about this well-mannered woman is that she’s a seamstress and a designer. She’s proud to work for the city of Chula Vista and she’s also a mother. Lily has two amazing children: Ricky (28) and Bella (25). If you’re on a walk in Otay Ranch or around the lakes and a woman greets you with a “hello,” it’s probably Lily Cesena. Lily loves her community and loves her city even more. Her friendships are true and everlasting. 
For more information on CAST, visit the city’s website at
Rebecca Kelley is South County regional director of marketing, media and community relations at South Bay YMCA.