Winthrop resident accepts Safe Streets award

Winthrop resident Glenn Grigsby accepted the Safe Streets Superstar Award for Outstanding Block Leader or Strategic Partner during a breakfast ceremony this morning in South Tacoma.

Grigsby, two other individuals, and one community group were honored at Bethlehem Baptist Church on Portland Avenue during an event that also marked the organization’s 20th anniversary.

Safe Streets is a private, non-profit organization that unites neighbors against crime. The Superstars designation recognizes people who have shown exceptional selflessness and commitment in working to improve Tacoma and Pierce County.

The complete list of this year’s Superstars includes:

  • Glenn Grigsby / Outstanding Block Leader or Strategic Partner;
  • Park Avenue Neighborhood / Outstanding Block Group or Coalition;
  • Julia Lay / Outstanding Youth;
  • Officer Don Williams / Director’s Award.

Grigsby is the leader of the Olympus-Winthrop Guardians, a group comprised of residents from the Olympus and Winthrop hotels in downtown Tacoma. The group holds regular meetings involving residents, nearby businesses and law enforcement. It also conducts recurring neighborhood clean-ups.

The Tacoma Daily Index first profiled Grigsby as part of its ongoing series of interviews with Winthrop residents.

During that interview, Grigsby, 51, recalled his experience living in the 84-year-old, 12-story former historic hotel in downtown Tacoma for the past 15 years. He also spoke of his own personal transformation away from criminal activity and drug abuse to a sober life that is now rooted in neighborhood activism. To that end, Grigsby has tried to provide non-residents with a more nuanced understanding of a building that has a poor reputation (last week, a resident was charged with six counts of arson at the Winthrop). “The perception [of the Winthrop] is mostly negative,” said Grigsby. “I understand that. We do have some fools in here. There was a time I was a fool. I was probably the biggest fool in the building. But many of the people here are good people. We have some success stories that have come through here.”

During the ceremony, Safe Streets Executive Director Priscilla Lisicich recalled how a small group of nearly two-dozen people came up with the idea for Safe Streets. “We were not in a good place,” she said. “Our children were being recruited by gangs. It was a horrible time in our community. But people came in the thousands to respond to the call to action.”

According to Lisicich, more than 220,000 people have been involved with Safe Streets over the past two decades.

For more information about the 2009 Safe Streets Superstars, visit

Winthrop resident Glenn Grigsby accepted a Safe Streets Superstar Award this week with his mother Mary Court. Grigsby, two other individuals, and one community group were honored at Bethlehem Baptist Church on Portland Avenue during an event that also marked the organization's 20th anniversary. (PHOTO BY TODD MATTHEWS)

To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of the Winthrop Hotel, click on the following links:

In 2009, the Tacoma Daily Index published a series of interviews with many residents of the Winthrop Hotel. To read the complete series, click on the following links:

Todd Matthews is editor of the Tacoma Daily Index and recipient of an award for Outstanding Achievement in Media from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for his work covering historic preservation in Tacoma and Pierce County. He has earned four awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including third-place honors for his feature article about the University of Washington’s Innocence Project; first-place honors for his feature article about Seattle’s bike messengers; third-place honors for his feature interview with Prison Legal News founder Paul Wright; and second-place honors for his feature article about whistle-blowers in Washington State. His work has also appeared in All About Jazz, City Arts Tacoma, Earshot Jazz, Homeland Security Today, Jazz Steps, Journal of the San Juans, Lynnwood-Mountlake Terrace Enterprise, Prison Legal News, Rain Taxi, Real Change, Seattle Business Monthly, Seattle magazine, Tablet, Washington CEO, Washington Law & Politics, and Washington Free Press. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications. His journalism is collected online at