Mayor Marilyn Strickland and Tacoma City Council members recognized Tacoma’s top volunteers on May 7, during the 27th annual City of Destiny Awards. Held at the Stadium High School Auditorium, spirits were high as the award recipients received much applause for their selflessness and leadership.
“Tacoma is blessed with people who love this city and are willing to volunteer their time and talent to improve it,” said Strickland. “Instead of sitting on the sidelines, they are rolling up their sleeves and taking action that has a positive impact on our community. We owe them many thanks.”
Youth Leadership – May Luu
As vice president of the Wilson High School Key Club, May Luu has impacted the lives of many by embodying the Kiwanis/Key Club mission statement: “Serving the Children of the World, One Child and One Community at a Time.” She volunteers at St. Joseph Medical Center’s Family Birth Center and led her fellow Key Club members to help very ill, premature babies by raising funds for March of Dimes and she helps foster children through Catholic Community Services. Over the holidays, she inspired Key Club members to hold successful food drives, and on the last Friday of each month Luu and the Key Club make 300 sandwiches for the Rescue Mission.
Youth Service – Tatiana Mason
Tatiana Mason’s volunteer career began at the Tacoma Nature Center, where she has put in nearly 400 volunteer hours. Center staff and teachers have been so impressed with her range of skills, devotion and enthusiasm that they have entrusted her with numerous leadership positions at the center – leading Girl Scouts at nature badge workshops, training and working with staff to survey wetland amphibian populations, leading beach hikes, supervising children and leading activities at the center’s nature day camps, and more. Her scholastic prowess is impressive as well, making her a perfect and positive role model for children and adults alike.
Adult Leadership – Adria Farber
Adria Farber’s efforts on behalf of the American Diabetes Association border on legendary. She helped raise more than $25,000 through her Dine Out to Stop Diabetes event at Joeseppi’s Italian Ristorante and her participation in and promotion of the South Sound Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes, among her other efforts. At Tacoma Athletic Commission, she is a committee member in its Athlete of the Year program, where she helps choose student-athletes for scholarships, assists with events, presents awards and helps create a vibrant atmosphere at TAC and for those around her with her energy, enthusiasm and competence. She is an integral component of Pierce County’s role in the Faith & Family Homelessness Project and has done much more work for the homeless. She has served with Phoenix House, promoted the Pierce County Hunger Walk and helps children in foster care with new blankets and other gifts.
Adult Sustained Service – Donna Buck
It can be said truly that Donna Buck donates part of every day to her volunteerism and has so for many years, thus her award for “sustained service.” Everything she does for the community, for children, veterans and the underprivileged is of a multitude impossible to list here, but here is a sampling: She has ensured wheelchair accessible sidewalks where there were none; leads food, clothing and school supplies drives year-round; makes sure “Bears and Blankets” packages are at all police agencies in the city for children involved in policing situations; cooks and serves full Christmas dinners for all first responders all day long each Christmas Day; she is an active member of numerous local and national organizations like AMVETS, South End Community Council and South Tacoma Business Owners Association, and she even clips coupons every week to send to military families to use in commissaries overseas. One would be hard-pressed to find a more selfless soul than Buck’s.
Environmental Sustainability – Lincoln Tree Farm Camp Counselors
This past summer, 22 students from Gray Middle School were chosen to participate in this intensive program in environmental science. Out of their urban environment and into the forest, these East Side youth from at-risk populations needed guidance, and it was provided thanks to Wilson High School students Marianna Smith and Monique Vasquez-Davis. It was not always easy for these two camp counselors to handle middle-schoolers, but by the end of the camp the 22 students were fully excited about environmental sustainability and the things they learned. They were also grateful for everything that Marianna and Monique did for them to make Lincoln Tree Farm Camp possible.
Youth Group – Zoo Guides
Nominated for their efforts in educating about where Tacoma fits in global climate change, Zoo Guides are dedicated volunteers ages 14-18 at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium who engage visitors in learning more about the endangered animals housed at the zoo and how making simple lifestyle changes can help protect animal habitats. The 54 members of the 2012 Zoo Guide team spent 2,080.5 hours in pre-season training prior to setting out on their educational mission for a minimum of 152 hours for the summer season, during which they spoke with more than 350,000 people.
Employee Group or Union Group Award – International Association of Machinists District 751
When the working men and women of Machinists District 751 are not building components for the world’s best airplanes, or assembling these fine aircraft, through the Machinists Volunteer Program they have invested thousands upon thousands of hours improving lives and improving the city of Tacoma. They work once a week sorting foods at the Northwest Harvest warehouse and help out every holiday with the KING 5 Home Team Harvest food drive. In 2012 they collected 552 jars of peanut butter. They have built Olympic-style awards platforms for Special Olympics, helped out at the Rescue Mission and with Project Homeless Connect.
Neighborhood Group – Zina Linnik Project
Who in Tacoma can ever forget that awful day on July 4, 2007, when little Zina Linnik was kidnapped and killed? But thanks to a long line of caring people, this time of tragedy was turned into a moment of triumph for Tacoma when the Zina Linnik Project took off. With key help from students, staff and families at McCarver Elementary School and in Hilltop, and others too numerous to name, empty and aged landscapes were transformed into two of the city’s most impressive parks, Wright Park and McCarver Park, where children can play safely and Linnik’s memory lives on.
Community Partnership – Dr. Gordy Klatt and the Tacoma Relay for Life Volunteers
In 1985, Dr. Gordy Klatt spent 24 hours running around a track to bring attention to those who fight cancer and those who care for them. At the end of his run, he had raised $27,000. Fast-forward 27 years later, and that humble effort has become a global movement spanning more than 20 countries in more than 6,000 communities. It’s name: Relay for Life. Having raised more than $4 billion to date, it quickly became the largest community-focused event in the world. And thanks to dedicated volunteers that put on Relay for Life Tacoma, the event raised nearly $600,000 in 2012 with more than 2,300 participants that included 600 cancer survivors, including Klatt.
The City of Destiny Awards event is covered by TV Tacoma and aired on both the Click! and Comcast Cable systems.