Volunteers Nancy Elwert and Bruce Leigh with Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) ready to place food boxes in a trunk at Sequim High School in June 2020. Sequim Gazette file photo by Matthew Nash

Volunteers Nancy Elwert and Bruce Leigh with Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) ready to place food boxes in a trunk at Sequim High School in June 2020. Sequim Gazette file photo by Matthew Nash

Sequim’s 2020 Citizens of Year: Essential workers

After more than five decades of honoring key individual or individuals for their volunteerism and devotion to the community, local business leaders are giving kudos to the hundreds who helped Sequim get through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce and a committee of former Citizen of the Year winners named Sequim’s essential workers the recipients of the 2020 Citizen of the Year award.

“It is clear no single person could be singled out in an immeasurably harsh year and therefore for the first time ever, a group award is being issued,” chamber executive director Anji Scalf said in a chamber press release on June 29.

“Whether these people belong to a faith community who made masks, community service clubs and non-profits assisting with a never-before-seen need, people who went to work because their job required on-site presence and the many others who provided essential tasks that kept our community solid, we want to say ‘thank you’,” Scalf said in the release.

The chamber also gave kudos to staff and volunteers working with local entities such as Olympic Medical Center and other health care personnel, Sequim School District, Clallam County Fire District 3, City of Sequim, along with staff at local daycares, restaurants, grocery stores and other essential retail stores, local media, hospitality businesses, the U.S. Postal Service, public transit and members of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

Jamestown Family Health Clinic staff and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members help individuals get registered for COVID-19 vaccinations at the tribe’s clinic in January. Those assisting include (in background) Dr. Molly Martin, deputy medical director at the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, and CERT member Jim Johnston. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

Jamestown Family Health Clinic staff and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members help individuals get registered for COVID-19 vaccinations at the tribe’s clinic in January. Those assisting include (in background) Dr. Molly Martin, deputy medical director at the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, and CERT member Jim Johnston. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

In a later interview, Scalf said this year’s honor goes out to everyone who “rolled of their sleeves” to help others get through the pandemic.

“Every time I think about it, I get really teary,” she said. “I literally don’t have the word to express (that gratitude).”

CERT coordinator Blaine Zechenelly said he had about 180 team members involved with the Jamestown Family Clinic’s COVID-19 vaccination events earlier this year that wound up vaccinating about 17,500 people.

In addition, CERT members joined other volunteers in community food drives and picking up personal protection equipment (PPE) supplies and helped out at the emergency operations center. All told, the team saw about 300 people directly participating in volunteer efforts.

Wendy Light of Sequim cuts fabric to be given out to volunteers for the creation of face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in April 2020. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Wendy Light of Sequim cuts fabric to be given out to volunteers for the creation of face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in April 2020. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Some were nervous about helping out initially with COVID numbers rising, Zechenelly said, but after they were vaccinated they felt better about participating in the events.

“It was very positive; they felt they had a purpose in life,” he said.

“People were just excited. It’s just emotional. It touched their hearts because they were fighting back.

The vaccination clinic and food drives in particular “really started to move hearts and minds,” Zechenelly said.

“(They) gave something for people to rally around.”

The Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce traditionally awards the Citizen of the Year honor — and occasional Humanitarian Awards — in February, but the committee of former award recipients said they wanted to meet in person before they made the choice for 2020, Scalf said.

“I think it’s an excellent path to take,” she said of the committee’s decision.

Zechenelly agreed.

“I think it’s a very appropriate answer; everybody was working everywhere,” he said, adding that volunteering is a key function of healthy communities.

Sendy Alvarez, manager of Hardy’s Market, takes a dinner order outside the Sequim convenience store and deli on Thanksgiving Day 2020. In an annual tradition, the market gave away traditional turkey dinners to people, foregoing inside service in favor of walk-up delivery to adhere to COVID-19 distancing guidelines. FIle photo by Keith Thorpe/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Sendy Alvarez, manager of Hardy’s Market, takes a dinner order outside the Sequim convenience store and deli on Thanksgiving Day 2020. In an annual tradition, the market gave away traditional turkey dinners to people, foregoing inside service in favor of walk-up delivery to adhere to COVID-19 distancing guidelines. FIle photo by Keith Thorpe/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Picnic in the Park

Chamber representatives said they plan to honor essential workers at the organization’s annual Picnic in the Park, set for Aug. 25 at Pioneer Memorial Park, 387 E. Washington St. Scalf said that, as in previous years, local and regional legislators are being invited to attend.

Details will be announced later this summer; see sequimchamber.com for more information and updates.

Scalf said the chamber plans to offer a virtual component for those who are unable to attend in-person.

2021 nominations

Nominations for 2021 Citizen of the Year will open in December 2021. Applications can be found on the Citizen of the Year tab on our website and will be distributed to local media outlets in late November.

Created in 1968, the Citizen of the Year Award was designed to recognize those individuals who contribute to the betterment of the community. Former Sequim mayor Peter Black was the first recipient of the award. The chamber named either one or two recipients since then except for 1973 (none awarded) and 1976 (three individuals honored).

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce Citizens of the Year

1968 — Peter Black

1969 — Carl Klint

1970 — Virginia Keeting

1971 — Virginia Peterson

1972 — Tom Groat

1973 — None

1974 — Katie and Bill Merrill

1975 — Jerry Angiuli

1976 — Chuck Southern, Howard Wood and Lorna McInnes

1977 — Nellie Tetrude

1978 — Marcia Welch

1979 — Ruby Trotter

1980 — Iris Marshall

1981 — Howard Herrett

1982 — Guy Shephard

1983 — Don and Vivian Swanson

1984 — Bill and Shirley Keeler

1985 — Ed and Marcia Beggs

1986 — Ruby Mantle

1987 — Jeff Shold

1988 — Annette Kuss

1989 — Jim Haynes

1990 — Bill and Judy Rowland

1991 — Nina Fatherson

1992 — Bud Knapp

1993 — Paul Higgins

1994 — Rand Thomas

1995 — Rochelle McHugh

1996 — Esther Nelson

1997 — Annette Hanson

1998 — Jim and Cathy Carl

1999 — Bill Fatherson

2000 — Robert Clark

2001 — Don Knapp

2002 — Gil Oldenkamp

2003 — John Beitzel

2004 — Emily Westcott

2005 — Lee Lawrence

2006 — Bob and Elaine Caldwell

2007 — Stephen Rosales

2008 — Walt and Sherry Schubert

2009 — Tom Schaafsma

2010 — Jim Pickett

2011 — Dick Hughes

2012 — Kevin Kennedy

2013 — Gary Smith

2014 — Cliff Vining

2015 — Louie Rychlik

2016 — Dave Bekkevar

2017 — Judy Reandeau Stipe

2018 — Don, Clare Manis Hatler

2019 — Deon Kapetan

2020 — First responders

First grade teacher Pattie Hagan greets James Keehn back to school at Helen Haller Elementary in January after COVID-19 precautions led school leaders to move to distance learning. Sequim Gazette file photo by Matthew Nash

First grade teacher Pattie Hagan greets James Keehn back to school at Helen Haller Elementary in January after COVID-19 precautions led school leaders to move to distance learning. Sequim Gazette file photo by Matthew Nash

Sendy Alvarez, manager of Hardy’s Market, takes a dinner order outside the Sequim convenience store and deli on Thanksgiving Day 2020. In an annual tradition, the market gave away traditional turkey dinners to people, foregoing inside service in favor of walk-up delivery to adhere to COVID-19 distancing guidelines. FIle photo by Keith Thorpe/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Sendy Alvarez, manager of Hardy’s Market, takes a dinner order outside the Sequim convenience store and deli on Thanksgiving Day 2020. In an annual tradition, the market gave away traditional turkey dinners to people, foregoing inside service in favor of walk-up delivery to adhere to COVID-19 distancing guidelines. FIle photo by Keith Thorpe/Olympic Peninsula News Group

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