“They say it takes a village to raise a child,” Sequim Valley Lions Club president David Blakeslee noted Tuesday afternoon, to a room full of appreciative Sequim dignitaries.
“Well, it takes a Lions club to raise a Citizen of the Year. I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Blakeslee and fellow finalists Dr. Monica Dixon and Lynn Horton were all smiles at the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual Citizen of the Year Awards Luncheon, held at The Cedars at Dungeness Golf Course on Feb. 28.
Presenting Blakeslee with the Citizen of the Year honor was Terry Ward, vice president at Sound Publishing and publisher of the Sequim Gazette, Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum, along with Brown Maloney, Citizen of the Year committee chair.
Blakeslee was selected for Sequim’s top civic honor by a group of former award winners for his seemingly tireless service throughout the community, from various roles with Sequim’s annual Sunshine, Irrigation and Lavender festivals, his work on the executive board and float assembly for the annual Sequim Irrigation Festival and more.
Fellow Lion Steve Sahnow nominated Blakeslee.
“His large stature,” Sahnow said of Blakeslee, “is only exceeded by his heart and his desire to help.”
Sahnow noted that Blakeslee oversees the building of access ramps for residents in the community, youngsters as young as 3 to veterans and others. The Sequim Lion president helped build 30 ramps this year alone, Sahnow noted at Tuesdays’ award luncheon.
Blakeslee also coordinated with the Sequim School District to aid in planning, managing and performing state-mandated vision and hearing screening. He helped the Lions secure $10,000 in matching grant funds to purchase $20,000 in screening equipment used in both Clallam and Jefferson counties.
Blakeslee, Sahnow said, demonstrates his leadership with his selfless nature and lead-by-example volunteerism, and looks out for other local groups that need assistance.
“He continues to be the go-to guy guy for other nonprofits seeking help,” Sahnow said.
“The more that nonprofits work together,” Blakeslee said, “The better off we all are.”
In selecting the finalists in a Feb. 15 meeting, chamber representatives said “all three have generously given of themselves for the benefit of our region.”
Dixon was nominated by fellow Sequim volunteer Julianne Coonts, who lauded her fellow volunteer’s efforts to improve the community’s health by developing the Olympic Peninsula Healthy Community Coalition, construction of hundreds of isolation gowns and thousands of maks during the COVID-19 pandemic, and various other projects.
“She has literally baked hundred of cinnamon rolls for various organizations to sell at fundraisers and galas across our community,” Coonts noted Tuesday.
Dixon, Coonts said, became a philanthropist of time and energy for her community.
“She has shown us … we can all be philanthropists,” Coonts said.
Fellow Irrigation Festival board member Michelle Rhodes nominated Horton, a longtime Irrigation Festival Pageant and Royalty Director.
Rhodes described Horton’s daunting task of shepherding Sequim teens to dozens of events each year as they represent the Sequim community as Irrigation Festival royalty.
Horton also works on the float, costumes, planning, sponsorships and events and much more, Rhodes said in her nomination: she coaches, educates, encourages and supports the youngsters, creating lifelong relationships.
“[She’s also] a source of encouragement throughout their lives,” Rhodes said of Horton at Tuesday’s event.