By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
If you think of Tacoma as a city much like every other city with official agencies and bureaucratic offices, you’d be half-right.
But it’s the other half, the half that is unofficial, unpaid and largely unrecognized, is by far the most interesting and influential aspect of the public – and not always so public – face of our city and surrounding community.
Every year, beginning in 1987, Tacoma holds its City of Destiny Awards ceremony where volunteers and professionals who go above and beyond to “help make Tacoma a vibrant community” are publicly recognized.
On June 26th Mayor Victoria Woodards and the City Council will recognize Tacoma’s top volunteers and service providers during this year’s 35th Annual City of Destiny Awards.
Under current conditions the City of Tacoma will present a virtual format of the awards ceremony that will premiere on multiple platforms. The format will highlight all this year’s awardees and feature local performers. The event will premiere on TV Tacoma, tvtacoma.com, and stream live on Facebook at facebook.com/cityoftacoma on Saturday, June 26, at 6 p.m.
“We all have the power to impact the lives of our friends, families, and neighbors and make Tacoma a more connected, resilient, and compassionate community. The community members recognized each year as part of the City of Destiny Awards are a living example of compassion in action,” said Mayor Woodards. “Their dedication to service is an example to us all, and the positive impacts they make are even more important as our community begins to slowly rebuild from COVID-19.”
For more than 30 years, the City of Destiny Awards has honored more than 300 volunteers and professionals who have gone above and beyond to help make Tacoma the unique place we know.
Besides seeing individuals and groups and what they have done, the rest of us can get a clearer vision of who we are and what we can become together.
Who knows? You just might get inspired to work on that long-neglected corner of your neighborhood.
I’ve attended these award nights for several years. It is always a memorable experience to meet and mix with people who, out of their own vision, experience and, sometimes, frustration, step out, and often with their own money and, usually at first, not much support from friends and family members, step up and do what no one else took it upon themselves to do.
For now, of course, this gathering is virtual, but in the future, don’t miss this critical mass of those work to make a difference in this place we call home.
The 2021 City of Destiny Award recipients are:
Adult Leadership: An individual that inspires others to help meet a need in the community.
Kwabena Amoah-Forson and the Peace Bus
Rosemary Ponnekanti and the Tacoma Light Trail
Youth Leadership: An individual up to 18 years of age that inspires others to help meet a need in the community.
Lifetime Service: Dedicated service performed by an individual for an extended period that benefits the community.
Dr. William (Bill) Baarsma
Youth Service: Dedicated service performed by an individual up to 18 years of age that benefits the community.
Group: Creating Tacoma Destinations: Teamwork on a project that benefits the community.
Zoo Horticulture Volunteer Team
Group: Teamwork on a project that benefits the community.
ILWU Local 23
Environmental Sustainability: Individual or group of all ages dedicated to improving, conserving, or protecting the natural environment.
Disability Advocate: Professional: Individual professional dedicated to increasing accessibility to services such as employment, health, housing, civics, culture, recreation, facilities, and/or programs for people with disabilities.
Amin Tony Hester
Disability Advocate: Volunteer: Individual volunteer dedicated to increasing accessibility to services such as employment, health, housing, civics, culture, recreation, facilities, and/or programs for people with disabilities.
Economic Development: Group or individual dedicated to improving, encouraging, and promoting sustainable economic development for under-represented communities.
Equity & Empowerment: Group or individual dedicated to the promotion of social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion ensuring all have access to resources and opportunities, with specific focus on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
You can see a full video of the 2020 City of Destiny Awards ceremony here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzFXcjf9FLw.
To put it mildly, this past year or so has been a time of unprecedented challenges and difficulties. We in Tacoma have been in the national spotlight for good and not so good reasons. From the hottest real estate market in the entire nation to law enforcement controversies and lawsuits, the past year has been a year like no other.
More than ever, we need, and need to thank, those who remind us with their time and investment in our community that we can, and must, do better, be better and all work together to make Tacoma the place we want it to be.
Tacoma is far more than its official presence, and even more than its business community or history, it is us; people like us and people not at all like us.
If you, like many of us, have mixed feelings about what Tacoma has been or currently is, the City of Destiny Awards ceremony is your opportunity to see Tacoma truly shine. For a full list of award recipients or for more information on the City of Destiny Awards, visit cityoftacoma.org/DestinyAwards or call (253) 573-2523.