Annual City of Destiny Awards May 13

The City of Tacoma will recognize Tacoma’s outstanding volunteers at the 22nd Annual City of Destiny Awards May 13. Mayor Bill Baarsma and the City Council will honor four individuals and four groups for their exemplary service at the 7 p.m. ceremony at Jason Lee Middle School, 602 N. Sprague Ave.
The public is invited to join City Council members as they present awards to this year’s winners, selected by the Citizens Recognition Committee.
Winners will receive a colorful glass sculpture crafted by students in the Hilltop Artists in Residence Program.
TV Tacoma, the City’s municipal television station, will record the event to show as a special presentation. The programming schedule can be found at http://www.tvtacoma.com . TV Tacoma can be seen on Channel 12 in the Tacoma city limits, on Channel 21 in Pierce County (except University Place) and on channel 85 on Click! in University Place.
The City of Destiny Awards ceremony is supported by local organizations and businesses, including Tacoma Public Utilities, the event’s largest sponsor.
Since 1987, the City of Tacoma has honored about 200 outstanding volunteers through its City of Destiny Awards program. An appointed Citizens Recognition Committee selects the winners. Nominees must have:
– Volunteered time and energy, not money.
– Volunteered without financial compensation for their work.
– Volunteered within Tacoma’s city limits.
– Volunteered within the past 12 months in projects described for Leadership and Group categories.
For a list of past winners, visit http://www.cityoftacoma.org/DestinyAwards .
This year’s City of Destiny honorees are:
1. Ray Schuler (Adult Leadership) — Ray Schuler is a get-it-done kind of guy, leading him to become a highly effective volunteer leader who has helped guide the Boys & Girls Club of South Puget Sound through a time of unprecedented growth. Ray served as the volunteer Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound during 2006 and 2007, two critical years of its highly ambitious “It Just Takes One” capital and endowment campaign. The $60 million campaign, which began in 2004, has raised money to build HOPE Community Centers with a Boys & Girls Club as an anchor at seven locations throughout the South Puget Sound.
Schuler believes in the mission of the Boys & Girls Club — to enable all young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Schuler’s work paved the way to secure $40 million in donations and grants. Now, with 75 percent of the goal met and most of 2008 left to do it, the campaign is achievable, Schuler said. Early successes in the campaign allowed the Boys & Girls Club to start construction while the campaign was under way. The organization opened its Lakewood HOPE Center last August, the groundbreaking for the Jim and Carolyn Milgard Family HOPE Center in Gig Harbor is in the works, and for the Donald G. Topping Regional HOPE Center in Tacoma, construction is expected to begin in late 2008.
2. Randyn Morris (Youth Leadership) — Community service is the family business in the Morris household. Cynthia Morris has volunteered in arts and community organizations for more than 25 years. Daughter Myranda won a 2004 City of Destiny Award for Youth Leadership for her volunteer efforts. Now it’s time for Randyn Morris, her younger brother and a senior at Stadium High School, to be honored. His interest in volunteering began at the age of six. Literally following in the footsteps of his mother, he assisted her as she gave tours of the Pantages Theater. Throughout his youth, Morris has led cleanups, beautification and safety projects as a part of the South Hilltop Neighborhoods Association. And for First Lutheran church, he has served in the homeless feeding program, taught Sunday school and led youth groups in everything from exploring their faith to improving their neighborhoods.
When Morris wanted to learn more about the legislative process, he became a page. He also served on the Washington State Legislature’s Youth Advisory Council, advising legislators on issues affecting young people, including community safety and funding for math and science. He has served as a security captain for Tall Ships 2005; participated in the inaugural class of the Washington Aerospace Scholar program; and through Men In Action, encouraged mentorship activities among men of color, such as Kairos TORCH, a spiritual outreach to incarcerated youth.
3. Marion “Skip” Young (Adult Sustained Service) — Marion Young, better known as Skip, is tenacious, persistent, maybe even feisty, but always polite. In fact, that description just might be the secret to her success. For more than 15 years, she has been an incredibly effective community activist. The 72-year-old neighborhood grandma has faced drug dealers, gang members, prostitutes and their johns — even gun-wielding criminals — and she has stopped them in their tracks. How? With a smile on her face and concern in her heart. When she would encounter ne’er do wells on their regular Hilltop neighborhood walk-abouts, they would pepper them with an array of concerned questions — Did they need help? Did they need someone? Where did they need to be? Did they need help getting there? The crooks would get uncomfortable, but Skip and her companions kept them occupied with their seemingly naïve inquisitiveness until the police got there.
A Hilltop resident since 1965, Young watched the neighborhood become a place where people lived in fear. So when the Hilltop Action Coalition started in 1989, she got involved. She’s hosted National Night Out parties in her backyard since Tacoma first started the effort. She also participated in the Tacoma’s Citizen’s Police Academy. In 1998, Young joined with others in forming the Bryant Neighbors group. Over the years, the group has done everything from shut down drug houses to paint over graffiti. Walk-abouts and litter pick-ups have been a main stay of the Bryant Neighbors’ crime-prevention efforts.
4. Amy Pudists (Youth Service) — Health, fitness and volunteering have gone together for Amy Pudists since she was 12 years old. Now a senior at Wilson High School, Pudists has logged 950 volunteer hours since the summer of 2004, seizing every opportunity that comes her way. Her first volunteer position was helping with the YMCA’s Fit for Fun and Summer Fitness programs. For her efforts, the YMCA Morgan Family branch selected her as the youth volunteer of the summer. Pudists is an accomplished athlete in soccer, golf, swimming, bowling and fast pitch softball, and her athletic pursuits led to an interest in health care. As soon as she was old enough, she volunteered at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.
Her interest in health care grew as doors opened to more learning and volunteering opportunities, including Medical Explorers at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, which included first aid training and volunteering in various hospital departments; and Health Adventures at St. Joseph’s Medical Center, where she learned about a different department of the hospital each month. Pudists now volunteers in the Emergency Department at St. Joe’s, where she helps nurses transport patients to and from CT scans and MRIs and ultrasounds, and takes them from triage to their rooms. As she plans for college, she maintains a 3.64 grade average and hopes to be admitted to Washington State University’s Nursing program or the pre-nursing program at Eastern or Central Washington universities.
5. Lincoln LAWGs Safe Streets Group (Neighborhood Group or Community Partnership) — Relatively new to the Safe Streets Campaign, the Lincoln LAWGs or — Lincoln Area Watch Group — has made a huge impact in just a few years. If you passed through major intersections in the area of 38th and Pacific during the spring of 2006 through early 2007, you might have noticed some folks with some unusual signs. They said, “Don’t enable their additions. Give to charities, not panhandlers. Help make my neighborhood safe.” Along with the panhandlers came their drug deals, prostitution and litter — even human waste on sidewalks and in yards. Parents became uncomfortable walking across the street with young children for fear of encountering an aggressive panhandler or someone urinating in public.
Residents took their concerns to the police and city officials, but wanted to show how strongly they felt about keeping their neighborhood safe. The idea of demonstrating came up at a neighborhood meeting soon after the group established itself with Safe Streets. They knew something needed to be done, said Renee Harris, who along with her husband Jason Harris, serves as the neighborhood coordinator for the Lincoln LAWGs. By April 3, 2007, the Council approved a new anti-panhandling ordinance to help address the neighborhoods’ concerns.
6. REI Employees (Corporation, Business or Entrepreneur) — Last winter’s storms wreaked havoc in Tacoma’s neighborhoods and city streets. And they took their toll on our area parks as well. At Point Defiance Park, cleaning up scattered limbs and debris took months of effort. Maintenance staff members had to concentrate on the more traveled public areas. When it came to cleaning up the naturalized trails, the park needed some volunteer help. That’s where REI comes in. As a part of their National Trails Day effort, volunteers from the REI Tacoma store took complete ownership for the success of the first Point Defiance Trails Day.
In all, 43 staff members and family members participated. And when they finished cleaning up the trails, they hosted a booth at the Trails Day Fair, helping to promote Point Defiance’s treasured system of trails that are within the 702-acre park. That was only the beginning of REIs stewardship commitment to Metro Parks. Last year, REI employees — 95 of them — performed 305 hours of volunteer labor at Point Defiance Park, Blueberry Park and Northwest Trek. Plus, staff members with special training offered classes, seminars and clinics at the Tacoma Nature Center, Titlow Lodge and at Point Defiance in partnership with Metro Parks Outdoor Adventures programs.
7. University of Puget Sound Project Save (Employee or Union Group) — Here’s the way it used to work: With only a few days between commencement and the beginning of summer conferences at University of Puget Sound, anything students left behind in their rooms got tossed. After years of watching mounds of usable items wind up in the trash, Jack Pearce-Droge, director of the University’s Community Involvement and Action Center, wanted to put that resource to work. So 11 years ago, she and other UPS employees and community volunteers started Project SAVE (Sharing the Abundance Volunteer Effort).
Here’s how it works now: Project volunteers leave 60-gallon heavy duty paper bags in each dormitory and housing complex. Organizers advertise the project in campus publications, and volunteers spread the word. As move out day looms, students begin to load up the bags with clothing, shoes, kitchen supplies, backpacks, bedding, electronics, lamps, personal care items and food.
Volunteers collect the bags from nine dorms and 78 housing units and bring them to the basement of Kilworth Chapel to sort. They work throughout the weekend to pair tennis shoes, sort clothing and bedding, wash clothes or deliver them to the laundry mat, and finally, deliver items to local charities. They’ve found some interesting uses for commonly donated items — like egg crate mattress pads, which the art department gladly accepts to wrap artwork. The most valuable items donated have included eyeglasses, printers that still work, and jewelry. Grateful recipients of donated items include the YWCA Women’s Shelter, Tacoma Public School’s Tone Resource Center and Teen Drop-in Center, Faith Homes, Gateways for Youth and Families and many others — approximately 250 agencies in all. Last year the project gave away more than 400 60-gallon bags — double the amount of items donated in Project SAVE’s early years.
8. Metro Parks SHERPAS (Youth/Young Adult Group) — When many of us think of getting outdoors, we think of great outdoor events. And Metro Parks brings many of those events to us. Summer Concerts, Art-a-la-Cart, the Salmon Derby, Showcase Tacoma, Fright Night, Turkey Trot, Ethnic Fest, and events especially for the kids like Easter Egg Hunt, Play Carnivals, and Boo Bash are just some of the perennial favorites. And none of them would run as smoothly without the expert volunteer help of the SHERPAS. Student Hosts Enhancing Recreation Programs and Services, or SHERPAS, are student volunteers from Metro Parks Tacoma’s Leadership Experience Apprenticeship Program. The team of more than 40 youths spends weekends, evenings and summer vacations hosting Metro Parks’ events by greeting guests, setting up, tearing down, and whatever else needs to be done to make the event go. Last year alone, group members contributed 4,401 volunteer service hours.
Although events are their focus, they are ready to pitch in with other tasks that promote the parks and Tacoma. When Metro Parks’ staff members needed to notify residents about a neighborhood meeting, the students gathered teams to go door-to-door to canvass several blocks surrounding Kandle and Franklin parks. And they helped with Get Smart Tacoma’s youth survey and Community Summit, Asia Pacific Cultural Center’s New Year Celebration, First Night, Freedom Fest and Maritime Fest.