Hughes named top Citizen

Sequim Gazette staff

Dick Hughes couldn’t help but recognize others during his Feb. 28 acceptance speech as the 2011 Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year.


Hughes, a retired pastor, acknowledged several board members of the Sequim Education Foundation who have helped him in recent years. He spoke for a few minutes in front of a packed house at the chamber’s luncheon at the Sunland Country Club.


“It’s not me, it’s them,” Hughes said, deflecting the accolades to his cohorts with the Sequim Education Foundation and Dungeness Valley Health and Wellness Clinic.


Hughes is president of the education group and the wellness clinic.


He also is active in Sequim Noon Rotary, Sequim Wolf Pack Youth Football and Sequim Middle School Interact Club.


“I’m pleased to receive (the award) because it recognizes the work of the education foundation and wellness clinic,” Hughes said. “No one does this (kind of work) alone.”


A panel of past Citizen of the Year winners chose Hughes. Fellow nominees Dr. Cynthia Martin, founder of Parenting Matters and First Teacher, and Donna Tidrick, president of Sequim Community Aid, received honorary community service awards.


Jim Pickett presented the award as his final act as the 2010 award winner.


Patsene Dashiell, community liaison for Sequim School District, nominated Hughes.


She’s worked with him since 2005 in the Sequim Education Foundation and said it was an easy and obvious decision to nominate him.


“He tires me out with his unbounded energy,” she said. “There’s nothing he can’t envision.”


In addition to his organizational work, Hughes spearheaded a shoe voucher program in Sequim schools for students in need, with 120 students receiving shoes so far.


“When he sees a need, he acts immediately,” Dashiell said.

Other winners

Myrna Ford, treasurer for Sequim Community Aid, nominated Tidrick for her 29 years of support with Sequim Community Aid, especially in the past year when the agency faced financial problems and an outreach effort by Tidrick saved the program.


Tidrick said it was an honor to be nominated among the other candidates and a feat in itself to be nominated.


Nicole Brewer, a parent and volunteer at First Teacher, nominated Martin for her work advocating for early childhood education.


“I’m a better parent because of Cynthia Martin,” Brewer said.


Martin serves as president of the Parenting Matters Foundation, which oversees the First Teacher program. She also works with Prevention Works, Clallam County Literary Council and United Way.


Martin said she appreciated the nomination and that it has brought more attention to the First Teacher program — one that is seeking a new home. The Sequim School District is closing much of the Sequim Community School, home to First Teacher and other programs, in the fall.


The Citizen of the Year award began in 1968. Applications for nominees go out in January.


Hughes is the 63rd winner of the award.


Hughes’ nomination letter

“Why I Feel Dick Hughes should be Sequim’s 2012 Citizen of the Year

I met Dick when he joined the Sequim Education Foundation board and became president in 2005. He wasted no time in revving our board into a higher gear! Over the course of Dick’s leadership, our foundation has created many programs to help serve the needs of students, including scholarships, an Engineering Challenge, a Film Festival workshop and competition, teacher grants, and student enrichment grants.

Dick inspires excellence in our board, so that we can in turn inspire excellence in our students.

When Dick sees an opportunity to help someone in need, he acts quickly. Last fall, an anonymous donor expressed a desire to provide shoes and socks for children. Dick sprang into action and created the SEF Shoe Voucher program. He worked out details for a coupon redemption system with local merchants. He made arrangements at the bank to handle the funds. He made up coupons and brought them to the district office. With everything in place, teachers upon observing a need, could request a shoe voucher for the student. One of our elementary school principals requested a voucher to keep a ready supply of socks in the front office for kids who come to school without socks.

“The goal of SEF is to inspire students to learn, but everyone needs dry, warm feet in order to concentrate on their studies,” Dick reasoned. To date, around 120 vouchers have been issued.

When Dick sees a need, he acts immediately. Dick told me about a recent chilly morning when he purchased a tall hot tea on his way to volunteer at the clinic. As he parked and walked up to the clinic entrance, he noticed a woman waiting in line was shivering badly. Without hesitation, he handed her the hot tea, and assured her he hadn’t sipped from it yet. “I just felt she needed it more than I did,” he said.

Dick has the good of our community in his heart. He has the energy of 10 people! He possesses a real “can-do” spirit. His time and talents benefit many community programs including SEF, Sequim Wolf Pack Youth Football, Sequim Middle School and High School Interact Clubs, Dungeness Valley Health & Wellness Clinic and Sequim Noon Rotary Club. (In 2009, Dick served as president for both Noon Rotary Club and SEF.)

He is very modest about his good works, and often says, “I’m just an old preacher man.” I think Dick inspires excellence in everyone who comes in contact with him.

M. Patsene Dashiell”

Dashiell is Sequim Education Foundation’s treasurer.