Volunteer Recognition Awards

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Congratulations to the recipients of the 2021 Volunteer Recognition Awards! Join us as we honor the volunteers who have served Pierce County this past year.

The number of hours of volunteer service from the 10 groups and 41 individuals being recognized on Saturday, March 20 provided to Pierce County Government in 2020 - was 20,978 hours. By using a conservative figure of $17.00 per hour - that equates to almost $360,000.

View the accomplishments of each volunteer or group by selecting their name:

Honorable Mention

Pierce County WSU Extension 4-H Program

Kersten Lawson is the co-leader of the Amocat 4-H Club and the 2019/2020 Cat Superintendent. Kirsten has encouraged her club project leaders to continue meeting virtually to keep their members active. Kirsten led the Cat departments to an active virtual program for the Pierce County Fair and beyond. She led countywide virtual workshops for cooking, sewing and cat anatomy.
Donna Person Smith is the general club leader for the Lucky Horseshoe 4-H Club and a member of the Pierce County 4-H Horse Board and the Pierce County Fair Foundation Board. She had an active year in 2020 with the horse department. Since joining the Pierce County 4-H Horse Board she has always shown a contagious positive attitude. She and her husband re-carpeted and re-painted the horse office at Frontier Park. She put a lot of work into planning and gathering items for the inaugural horse auction to help fund 4-H horse activities only to have the event canceled due to Covid.
Outstanding Young Adults

Pierce County WSU Extension 4-H Program

Tyrah went above and beyond in 2020 to make sure that the Wags 'n Whiskers cat project on the Key Peninsula kept going even when in-person meetings were not allowed. She created games and learning programs with the members to keep them engaged. She was able to keep spirits high with members and kept them engaged when other groups were having difficulties. She has been a huge asset to her club.
Parks and Recreation
Late in summer 2020 plans were finalized to hold a Covid-friendly Halloween event called Haunted Headlights which would lead cars through a loop of Frontier Park filled with spooky decorations and vignettes. The event planners sought design input from several sources and hit the jackpot when Nicole responded. With her background in set design, building, and painting, she immediately dove in with ideas, themes, and sketches for how we could create some of the displays and improve upon others. Nicole spent several days on her knees prepping, sketching, and then painting large canvas tarps which became backdrops for some of the most recognizable displays on the route. I feel strongly about Nicole’s contribution to the event because of the impact her larger-than-life decor added.
Planning Public Works - Airports and Ferry Pierce County Airport Thun Field
Emilio Ganchorre is a Boy Scout and a junior at Rogers High School. He also is attending Pierce College through their Running Start program. For the past five years, Emilio has been an active member and leader in Troop 274. Emilio is finishing the final requirements for his Eagle rank, the highest level in scouting. Achieving this rank requires that a scout plan, develop, and provide leadership to others in a community service project. Emilio participated in aviation programs including Teen Flight, a nonprofit located at Pierce County Airport - Thun Field. Because of his connection with the airfield, it was one of his Eagle project considerations. Emilio wasn’t sure how he could integrate the two, but it was worth investigating. In the Fall of 2019, Emilio set up a meeting with Lissa Smith, Maintenance and Operations Lead for Pierce County Airport - Thun Field. During this initial discussion, he discovered that an information kiosk was needed at the South Hill airport. Although he thought it was a worthy cause, he also felt that it would be quite an undertaking as he had no experience in building anything of this scale. After careful consideration, he decided to pursue this project knowing it would serve the community for the long-term. Emilio and his dad spent more than 400 hours planning, researching materials and designs, building a model, and then finally constructing and painting a kiosk. It was delivered to and completed on site in August 2020. While at times the process was frustrating and incredibly time-consuming, it also proved to be invaluable as it taught Emilio patience and perseverance.
Outstanding Adults

Economic Development - Free Business Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Ginny was a huge help in getting desperately needed masks and no-touch infrared thermometers to businesses in Pierce County. Her upbeat personality helped the distribution sites raise the spirits of the business owners facing the pandemic. The free PPE distribution was planned with limited time so her assistance was extremely valuable to get the program running and keep the long lines of eager Pierce County business folks moving smoothly during these highly popular distribution events. Ginny made the trip down from Kirkland, WA to help at two of the busiest distribution sites, Lakewood and Sprinker, which truly needed as many hands as they could get.
Brannden was essential to the free PPE distribution program. His organizational skills, logistical planning, swift distribution execution, ability to quickly load and unload large amounts of PPE boxes, and reconciliation of distribution paperwork were all crucially beneficial to the program. He was extremely giving of his time, volunteering at PPE distribution sites throughout Pierce County. Sites he worked included Eatonville, Bonney Lake, Puyallup, Tacoma, Lakewood, Sprinker, Fife, Annex, and the distribution warehouse. The free PPE program was flooded with requests from business owners who were unable to obtain the masks and thermometers needed to keep their employees and customers safe at the beginning of the pandemic. Brannden's ability to efficiently execute the PPE distribution was critical to hundreds of local businesses in need of PPE right away. His hard work volunteering at distribution locations as well as the holding warehouse was an act of volunteering that truly impacted Pierce County residents in one of the most positive ways during the stressful arrival of the first wave of shut-downs / stay home orders. He worked extremely well with other volunteers and kept each location running smoothly, all while maintaining detail-oriented notes and implementation of the reconciliation logs.
Spencer volunteered at PPE distribution sites as well as during the reconciliation paperwork of who received free PPE. He worked at two extremely high-traffic free PPE sites, in Tacoma and at the Annex. The extreme demand for free PPE from Pierce County businesses required some distribution sites to have multiple pick-up lines to keep the long lines of traffic moving, and Spencer's ability to jump in and help out at these busy sites was pivotal to the ability to run these large sites. At the beginning of the stay-home orders, finding volunteers was a tricky task, but Spencer generously rose to the occasion. The whirlwind events required volunteers who were compassionate to the business owners in desperate need of PPE but also very organized so the process could be done correctly—and his time helping displayed both of these qualities.
Emergency Management - Emergency Medical Services
Paula has volunteered to assist with COVID-19 nasal swabbing events across the county to include the first event at the Tacoma Dome in March 2000. She has volunteered to assist with flu vaccine administration events across the county on multiple dates. Paula also assisted with COVID-19 vaccine administration to healthcare personnel to include the EMS drive-through event on 26-27 December 2000. She is always responsive to any requests to support the Urban Search and Rescue Team deployments to include medication cache inventory and medical checks during mobilization deployments. Key to this 'volunteership' is that she is available at a moment's notice anytime we need her. She also was named the 2020 United States National Track & Field Officials President's Horace Crow Award winner as the Outstanding Field Event Official.
Emergency Management- Tacoma Mountain Rescue Unit
Dennis Eller is the training officer for the Tacoma Mountain Rescue Unit and has modernized the unit’s training. Coming from an educational and military background he has upheld the Mountain Rescue Association standards for the unit and created realism and uniformity in our training making the Tacoma Mountain Rescue Unit the best prepared Mountain Rescue unit in the Pacific Northwest.
Emergency Management - FAST (Functional Assessment Services Team) Responder
Todd has volunteered for FAST (Functional Assessment Services Team) since 2008 and is an active FAST Responder and Lead. Todd has provided approximately 60 hours+ of volunteer work in 2020 which includes time spent on phone calls and virtual meetings to coordinate and plan FAST supports & trainings. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Todd volunteered in partnership with the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department - Medical Reserve Corp. Todd's role was to assess isolation and quarantine sites, drive-thru flu operations and COVID-19 testing operations (drive-thru and walk-up events) for barriers to accessing those resources. This includes visually observing the sites, providing feedback, and making recommendations in order to make those sites more accessible. Additionally, Todd volunteered his time during the first mass testing operation at the Tacoma Dome (March 2020), which included being available on site to provide accommodations when needed. Todd completed site surveys for several drive-thru flu operations, one isolation and quarantine site and two mass testing events and made himself available for onsite or virtual support. His support was greatly appreciated and valued and contributed to the operational success of each of those sites. Todd is always willing and able to offer his expertise and support when called upon and is one of our most active FAST responders! All FAST Responders work directly with Pierce County Department of Emergency Management and the Access & Functional Needs Coordinator to retrieve equipment/supplies, as needed or requested. Our FAST responders are also professionals supporting vulnerable communities so any FAST responder who volunteered during this Pandemic should be recognized for their efforts during such challenging times.
Kim has volunteered for FAST (Functional Assessment Services Team) since 2013 and is an active FAST Responder, Lead and Instructor. Kim provided approximately 15 hours of volunteer work in 2020 which includes time spent on phone calls and virtual meetings to coordinate and plan FAST supports and trainings. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Kim volunteered in partnership with the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department - Medical Reserve Corp. Kim's role was to assess drive-thru flu operations for barriers to accessing that resource. This includes visually observing the sites, providing feedback, and making recommendations in order to make those sites more accessible. Kim completed site surveys for three drive-thru flu operations in 2020. Her support was appreciated and valued and contributed to the event's success. All FAST Responders work directly with Pierce County Department of Emergency Management and the Access & Functional Needs Coordinator to retrieve equipment/supplies as needed or requested. Our FAST responders are also professionals supporting vulnerable communities so any FAST responder who volunteered during this Pandemic should be recognized for their efforts during such challenging times.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department - Pierce County Medical Reserve Corps

Pete Weymiller joined the Pierce County Medical Reserve Corps last August. He is always willing and ready to help out for the good of the community, regardless of the event or mission. Pete takes it upon himself to provide exceptional support to every team he works with. He has brought logistical experience and knowledge to our team. He continually volunteers in different activation events in response to COVID-19, one being daily symptom checks for the employees of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. When the Pierce County Medical Reserve Corps was requested to help support local school-based COVID-19 testing, Pete was among the first to sign up. We are endlessly thankful to have an amazing and committed volunteer like Pete.
Lillian has been a devoted volunteer to the Pierce County Medical Reserve Corps since March of 2020. She has contributed over 220 hours of response through our activation events. Lillian has helped with case and contact investigation throughout this past year during the COVID-19 outbreak. With her medical background, Lillian brought invaluable knowledge and experience to both our Drive-Thru Flu Clinics and our Shelter Immunization Clinics. Through these events, Lillian has touched and enriched the lives of thousands of individuals in her community. We are thankful to have an amazing and enthusiastic volunteer like Lillian.
Kevin has been a wonderful addition to the Pierce County Medical Reserve Corps this past year. He joined the MRC recently in March of 2020 and has assisted in almost all of our activations since he joined. He has contributed over 750 hours of response through our various activations with Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and the City of Tacoma. Kevin has helped us respond to all kind of emergencies across Pierce County. Kevin has assisted us in case and contact investigation during the COVID-19 outbreak. From September to December 2020, Kevin participated in all twelve of our Drive-Thru Flu vaccination clinics. Kevin exemplifies the virtues of good citizenship and has gone over and above simply volunteering his time regularly. He participated in all twelve of our Drive-Thru Flu vaccination clinics. He has shown exemplary leadership and initiative skills by helping lead several of our Shelter Immunization clinics. Through these events and more, Kevin has made a difference at the Pierce County MRC and has positively impacted the people of our community.
Deborah Hammond has been a committed volunteer with the Pierce County Medical Reserve Corps for six years. With her medical background experience and commitment to helping others, she has greatly impacted the Pierce County Medical Reserve Corps. Deborah has regularly volunteered in both our Drive-Thru Flu Clinics and Shelter Immunization Clinics. She has proved to be an invaluable volunteer at the COVID-19 vaccine distribution clinics. Through these events and more, Deborah has committed over 120 hours of response. Her skills, experience, and willingness to support have greatly impacted our community. The Pierce County Medical Reserve Corps is lucky to have a volunteer as dedicated to serving our community as Deborah is.

Human Services - Allocation Advisory Committee for Prevention Programs

Dylan Brown served as Chair of the Allocation Advisory Committee for Prevention Programs for the last two years. During this time, Dylan led a Committee in reviewing, rating, listening to applicant presentations and discussing nearly 50 submissions for youth violence prevention dollars. It is a lengthy and deliberate process that takes a strong Chair to lead this work and Dylan has done an excellent job. He also did a great job ensuring the Committee made impactful investments in the community with $2 million dollars over a two-year funding process and focused efforts on making meaningful investments in a diverse group of organizations. Without a doubt, Dylan has a passion to give back to his community just as adult mentors helped him when he was a child. He is living proof that how youth are raised sets them up for future success.
Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources (ADR) is required to have representation on our Advisory Board from an elected official and we have been very fortunate to have Senator Steve Conway fill that role. Senator Conway has served on the ADR Advisory Board since 2012. He brings with him a combination of his years of insights as an elected official and a sincere interest and heart for the work we do. He's been a long-time member of our Education and Public Advocacy committee. Senator Conway has a very busy schedule but works to prioritize and attend our meetings. He has always been kind enough to provide insights into the legislative process and how we can be most effective in our advocacy. We are truly grateful for Senator Conway’s service as an Advisory Board member.

Human Services - Citizens' Advisory Board (CAB)

Susan Johnson has served on the Citizens' Advisory Board (CAB) for four years and recently served as Chair of the CAB. Her funding recommendation for $12 million of federal funds helped meet the needs and services of low-income and homeless individuals and families in Pierce County. These services included food, health care, senior services, clothing, housing, childcare, and housing rehabilitation. The funding recommendations she made impacted well over 100,000 low-income individuals and homeless persons over a 12-month period. This means that since 2016, Ms. Johnson has contributed to helping over 400,000 people in the County gain access to services. In addition, the funds Ms. Johnson recommended have helped low-income communities such as in Fife and Carbonado with improving their water systems and created a homeless youth crisis residential center in Tacoma. She is a great asset to have on the Board to help improve the lives of those in need in our County. In times like these, Susan Johnson is more valuable than ever.

Human Services - ECEAP Program

Angel has lived up to her name with her efforts on behalf of our ECEAP families. Food Banks receive free USDA food boxes. But many ECEAP families don’t have transportation to a food bank or must work during a food bank’s hours of operation. So Angel picks up as many of these free food boxes as we need and arranges a pick-up point with us. Our Family Support Staff then delivers these free food boxes to all of their ECEAP families. Angel’s efforts make a difference in our community by allowing us to give food to families in our ECEAP program.

Human Services - Aging and Disability Resources Advisory Board

Stuart Maier joined the Aging and Disability Resources (ADR) Advisory Board in late 2010 and has been actively involved with our committees, including Quality Improvement and Customer Service, Planning and Allocations, and Public Relations/Education & Advocacy. Stuart has served as the Area Agency on Aging’s appointed representative to the State Council on Aging which is the advisory council for the Governor, the Secretary of Social and Health Services, and the State Unit on Aging. Stuart served as the Board Chair in 2015 and 2016, the First Officer in 2013, 2014, 2018, and 2019, and the Second Officer in 2017 and 2020. Stuart has been a strong advocate for older adults and people with disabilities. As a parent of an adult son with a disability, Stuart’s life experience has served to educate, inform, and build partnerships with state leaders, community organizations, and Pierce County residents. Stuart has been very generous with his time, having volunteered 560 hours since becoming an ADR Board Member in 2010. It’s for these reasons we recognize Stuart Maier for his volunteer service as an ADR Advisory Board Member.
John Ernest Berry III joined the ADR Advisory Board in 2013 and has been actively involved with our committees, including Quality Improvement and Customer Service, Planning and Allocations, and Public Relations/Education & Advocacy. As a service recipient of aging and disability services, John is a passionate advocate for people with disabilities and exemplifies the adage: “Nothing about us without us.” Whether as a member of our Advisory Board or as an advocate in Olympia, everybody knows John Ernest Berry III and his message that individuals living with disabilities shall not be denied services. In addition to his advocacy efforts, John volunteered 118 hours to the ADR Advisory Board since 2013. It’s for these reasons we recognize John Ernest Berry III for his years of volunteer service to the ADR Advisory Board.

Human Services - Developmental Disabilities Advisory Board

Tracy has served on the DD Advisory Board since October 2016. She served as interim Chair and then two terms as the Chair from August 2017 to January 2021. She is the mom of a daughter with disabilities and her passion is assisting individuals with disabilities to have equal access and inclusion in their communities. In addition to her board chair duties, Tracy: • Is involved in legislative advocacy to benefit people with developmental disabilities, including the Pierce County DD legislative forum; • Is involved in board development, including interviewing new members, planning board retreats, giving members rides to meetings, and organizing social events; Has contributed to program planning and visioning through statewide conferences and local follow-up implementation.

Juvenile Court - Child Advocate Program

Amy has been an advocate for over two years and has served 2 children and 2 families involved in the child welfare system. She was assigned as an advocate to a child who she quickly identified has having some social/emotional delays. She was instrumental in getting a child she advocates for into early head start. She also was able to advocate for and get the ball rolling on a birth-to-three evaluation. She supported the maternal grandmother in navigating those systems. The child would not be benefiting from the supports if she had not identified a need and then facilitated the process to completion. The child is now home with mother and she continues to ensure mother has what she needs to provide the supports her child needs. She follows the advocate role to a “T” and KNOWS the children, understands their needs, facilitates and advocates every step of the way. She checks in with her supervisor regularly and wants to make sure she is operating within her role. Her reports are fantastic and have all the information to help the judge make the best decisions for the children she advocates for. She is an advocate mentor for new advocates interested in the Child Advocate program. She has a big community family and shares information with them about the Program. She pays attention to other children in the community. She has a passion for this and sees it as a valuable role and discusses it with others. She is very community focused in all she does. She wants to do things for any member of the community and make things better them and wants people to have the resources they need. She is caring, committed and tenacious. Amy is an invaluable member of the Child Advocate Program and an asset to her community.
Michelle Walters is a volunteer who exceeds expectations and possesses incredible dedication and compassion. Our program is very lucky to have her. Michelle has been a Court Appointed Advocate with the Child Advocate Program of Pierce County for 3½ years. She currently holds 4 child advocacy cases (when the requirement for an active volunteer is one). During her tenure she has worked on 6 different cases, advocating for a total of 10 children in the foster care system. Through her advocacy Michelle has helped make sure children’s needs were met while in out-of-home care, including their medical, educational, and cultural needs. In 2020 alone she helped 2 children on 2 separate cases successfully reunite with their families. When our program started a mentorship program for new Advocates this year, without hesitation Michelle was one of the first Advocates to sign up to help her new teammates. Michelle is also an active member in our program’s advisory committee, The Diversity Collective. The goal of the committee is to help our program better serve children of color in care. Michelle is a respected member of this group and always brings passion, creativity, and perspective to our meetings. For all of these reasons and more I would like to recognize Michelle Walters and nominate her for volunteer of the year.

Juvenile Court - Dependency Unit

Sue is an amazing Advocate. She is currently advocating for 3 children in Pierce County and has also assisted an Advocate in Wenatchee by providing courtesy supervision to 4 children who resided in Pierce County. Sue is a hard worker and genuinely cares for the children she advocates for. She strives to be a team member and works well with the individuals in the case. Various parties speak well of her and appreciate having her on the case.

Parks and Recreation

Todd Jack was instrumental in the success of Haunted Headlights, a new event developed by the Parks Department in response to the need for a socially distanced and safe Halloween opportunity for families in Pierce County. Todd was onboard from the beginning donating his time and talents. He assisted in cutting down, hauling, and drying more than 600 cornstalks. He created, built, and decorated a six-foot wooden-framed alien spaceship and a PVC pipe Cowardly Lion. Todd also assisted in setting up and taking down the displays for the event.

Sheriff's Department - Sex offender Registration Unit

Susan McDougal has volunteered in the Sex Offender Registration Unit since 2013. She is an invaluable member of the SOR Unit team and brings a smiling face and a hello every time she enters the office. Susan’s duties include contacting other law enforcement agencies, courts, and government agencies across the nation to collect documents for offenders’ files. The files are necessary for the SORU to validate an offender’s conviction, confirming the duty to register and assisting in risk assessments and community notifications. Her willingness to take on this task saves the SORU team countless hours of work. Obtaining information from agencies across the country is an arduous and time-consuming task. Susan readily accepted the task and her efforts have streamlined registration procedures for new offenders registering in Pierce County. In 2019, a Washington State Court of Appeals ruling required a comparability analysis be completed to determine if a sex offender with an out-of-state conviction would be required to register in Washington State. Pierce County had approximately 464 offenders who needed a comparability analysis done. Susan took on the monumental task of requesting the court documents in many of those cases. In the last year, Susan volunteered in excess of 250 hours with the Sheriff’s Department. Susan’s willingness to be involved in the operations the Sheriff’s Department Sex Offender Registration Unit ensures we are successful and, most importantly, her actions are in line with the Department’s Mission Statement which includes “Work in Partnership to Build Strong Safe Communities.” We are very grateful for her willingness to assist us.

Pierce County WSU Extension 4-H Program

After a few years away, Lisa Doyle is back and has started a new club for cat members. She not only started a new club, but jumped into the Cat Department leadership as the assistant superintendent. She has conducted two countywide cat meetings for junior and intermediate members and is working with other leaders to conduct more.
Rebecca Farris served as the Dog Superintendent for 2019/2020. This has been a difficult year for the dog project as members were not able to work in groups with other dogs. Under her leadership, the dog department came up with alternate ways for dog members to show mastery with their dogs. This included video showmanship and some fun classes such as dog tricks. She also created videos for each of the members who entered exhibits in the Pierce County fair. She created a virtual booth for the County fair that included the combined videos and educational displays. Rebecca also volunteered to become the treasurer for the 4-H Club of the Upper Nisqually and was able to get the club's finances corrected. She was involved in helping make the Upper Nisqually archery program available for more member through the acquisition of shared equipment for those not able to afford to participate.
Sharon has served on the Pierce County Leader Council for many years as treasurer. She spends many hours organizing and going over records to ensure that everything is done correctly and in a timely fashion. Sharon is a caring person who gives of herself to help others.
Rachel Gatlin is in her first year as the Cavy Superintendent. She worked hard to get this department started and develop its classes and procedures. She put together exhibitor presentations and educational displays for most of the small animal departments in the Pierce County Fair Virtual Village. When the leader of the Four Every Green 4-H Club stepped down in the Fall after many years, Rachel stepped up and began holding virtual meetings not only for her club but also for small animal project members.
Beth Mantegna is a livestock project leader with the Lacamas Valley 4-H Club and the Large Animal Barn Superintendent for the Pierce County Fair. This summer she spent many hours helping 4-H members and open class exhibitors enter their exhibits in the Pierce County Fair. She also put together educational PowerPoint displays for the Dairy and Beef Cattle Virtual Village page of the fair.
Jill McNally serves as the Superintendent for the 4-H Horse Project and chairman for the Pierce County 4-H Horse Board. This was a difficult year for the 4-H program with no ability to meet face to face. Jill led the effort to offer events and opportunities to show mastery in horse skills through online methods. This has resulted in a larger participation in the Horse Project than other 4-H projects. Jill has also kept her Horse Crazy 4-H Club active virtually.
Laura is a new member of the 4-H Leaders Council representing 4-H Home Arts. She also serves as the Open Class Home Arts Superintendent for the Pierce County Fair. Even though the open class area takes many hours on its own, she spends time as an adviser to the 4-H Home Arts programs to see that everything runs smoothly. She has kept her Graham Crackers 4-H Club meeting virtually and has organized County-level sewing workshops on Zoom. Laura created sewing projects for 4-H members to do at home and shared them with all Home Arts 4-H members in Pierce County.
Tanya Peila has been involved with 4-H for 4 years as a Project Leader in the Cat Project. The last 2 years she has stepped up as a leader with the Pierce County 4-H Leaders Council. She served as the Cat Assistant Superintendent last year and is the incoming Superintendent for 2020/2021. She spent many hours helping move the Pierce County Fair to a virtual fair last Summer. In the Fall she led the Cat Project to have two county-wide age-appropriate cat project meetings per month. She has also been active with the Pierce County Fair Board and is the President-Elect of the Rotary Passport Club of Pierce County.
Mark has just begun his second year as the president of the Pierce County 4-H Leaders Council. He also serves on the Pierce County Fair Board. Mark is the County and State Superintendent of the 4-H Archery Project. He has helped guide the Pierce County 4-H program through the Covid pandemic. With the help of 4-H council member Tanya Peila, he was involved with moving the 4-H Fall Recognition Dinner to a virtual showcase. Mark is also the Archery Project Leader for the 4-H Club of the Upper Nisqually.
Outstanding Groups

Human Services 

The ACAC has worked extremely hard this year to support the needs of people with disabilities living in Pierce County. They have contributed their time, talent, and expertise to serve Pierce County Government. Their commitment and dedication to this work is impressive. It is my honor to nominate the following committee members:
•  Todd Holloway (has served on ACAC since 2018)
•  Julian Wheeler (since 2018)
•  Tony Hester (since 2019)
•  Cheri Coleman (since 2019)
•  Joy Cochran (since 2019)
• John Ernest Berry III (since 2015)
The committee has been actively involved in the following activities: advising on addressing the needs of persons with disabilities in emergency plans; advising the County and other local governments within the County on access to program services and activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, new construction or renovation projects, sidewalks, other pedestrian routes of travel, and disability parking enforcement; and developing local initiatives and activities to promote greater awareness of disability issues, and acceptance, involvement, and access for persons with disabilities within the community. The members have been a strong advocate for people with disabilities for many years. Their passion to help those afflicted with physical or developmental disabilities has been remarkable. They earned the trust and respect of their fellow board members, community partners and those they are helping.


During the year 2020, the Schiller family has provided our program with art materials, school supplies, and books for our preschool students. They have donated glue sticks, markers, paper, stickers and sparkling gems. The children are always excited to see new materials in the classroom. Each Summer, they paint ladybug rocks and bake food for their annual community plant sale. The entire family participates in this event and they spend many hours painting rocks and baking. The donations they receive from these two items are used to purchase supplies that benefit our ECEAP students. The Schiller family shops and delivers the items to our program. During the pandemic, Meri Kay made masks for free but community members insisted on giving donations. With those donations, she purchased individual Playdoh, art supplies, and books that was added to each child’s learning kit. The kits were given out in December during our Snowman Beep and Greet. The Schiller family also donated an inflatable snowman for the event. The Schiller family believes in and supports what our ECEAP preschool program does for their community. We appreciate their continued support during the pandemic and virtual learning.

Human Services 

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program is made up of dedicated and highly-trained certified volunteers. They are tasked with advocating for older adults in Long-Term Care facilities. This year, these volunteers have faced enormous challenges and risk to their personal health due to Covid. Amidst these unprecedented challenges, these volunteers have faithfully continued safely visiting residents, mediating and resolving conflicts and upholding resident rights all while Zooming, masking up, and disinfecting. Though not all volunteers were able to personally visit, they still continued to advocate on the resident's behalf. As for 2020, every single ombudsman deserves full recognition for their selflessness and adaptability. They literally saved residents' lives and improved residents' care and quality of life during a dark time in our community.

Planning and Public Works - Sustainable Resources, Environmental Education

The Youth Environmental Sustainability Summit (YESS) Steering Committee designed, planned, and coordinated the first county-wide, multi-grade youth sustainability summit for Pierce County. This dedicated and creative group met once a month throughout the fall, winter, and spring of 2020 to facilitate the design and implementation of this event. YESS was scheduled to happen in April 2020 on the TCC campus with the intent to bring together groups of middle school and high school students from across Pierce County. Teachers and students from across Pierce County had registered and as a youth-led initiative, YESS was designed to offer space where the youth of Pierce County could learn, share, and lead. Due to Covid-19 this event did not happen as originally planned. A virtual campaign was launched in the fall and the Steering Committee has continued to meet and commit their passion to providing opportunities for youth to engage with their community and demonstrate leadership. Their work is still very much in process and we would like to recognize their time and efforts. The Steering Committee is comprised of a diverse group of high school students, college students, elementary/middle/high school teachers, university and college professors, and local organizations and agencies. Group members include: Becky Hendrickson, Chris Towe, Jason Dearborn, Kathy Hall, Katrina Taylor, Jim Gawel, Ashley Mocorro Powell, Yvonne Louie, Karenna Merritt, Chelsea Boyd, Chandra Cockrill, and Jaqueline Fuller.

Pierce County WSU Extension Master Gardeners

The pandemic disrupted the lives of the Master Gardeners as it did everyone; but the Continuing Education team ensured that that part of Master Gardeners’ lives was not disrupted. Using the Zoom platform, they scheduled well-known and well-regarded speakers every month in 2020 and continue to do so in 2021. Inclusivity was a priority. Knowing that Zoom was unfamiliar to most Master Gardeners, they also hosted a number of one-on-one Zoom trainings. Additionally, in the summer of 2020, they worked with our Master Gardener interns to prepare them for public Zoom presentations which were well received by the public and presented on TV Tacoma. This was technically done through our Speakers Bureau team, but the members remain the same. Alice Dionne, Karen Larkin, Gail Sklar, Dale Skrivanich, Bruce West, and Sandy Benson comprise the Continuing Education Team. Thanks to their hard work, Master Gardeners continued to receive important continuing education during the COVID-19 shutdown.


Emergency Management - Explorer Search and Rescue Team

The Pierce County Explorer Search and Rescue Team is an organization of volunteers ages 14 and up that assist local law enforcement in search for missing persons, evacuation of the injured, and recovery of evidence. They also assist the Pierce County Emergency Management Department in the community with natural disasters like flooding. Recently they have assisted the department at COVID-19 vaccination clinics by helping with traffic control and assisting with answering questions. This team is always prepared and ready to assist in a moment’s notice in whatever way they can in the community.


Auditor's Office - 2020 Presidential General Election

Pierce County Elections managed the largest election in County history on November 3, 2020. All of our staff were focused on the essentials: Voter registration, election management, and ballot processing. We didn’t have resources to station staff at our 22 busiest ballot drop boxes. We needed volunteers to keep cars moving and maintain order.

Rotarian Achievements
1.Partnership. To streamline volunteer recruitment, ensure broad geographic coverage, and guarantee nonpartisanship, Pierce County Rotary Clubs were the perfect partner. Outreach began in January of 2020. Project Sponsor Julie Anderson kicked off the program February 27 with a “pitch” to the Rotary Presidents. Then we began individual presentations to clubs. Project Coordinator Casey Kaul presented at six different virtual Rotary Meetings beginning in late July.
2.Technologically proficient. DocuSign was used to complete Volunteer Release forms. Scheduling software allowed volunteers to create a login and select their shift of choice. Three training videos were created in YouTube about what to expect on election day.
3.Turnout. Eleven different Rotary clubs in Pierce County provided a total of 107 volunteers. Approximately 1,000 emails were exchanged. 88 attendants covered 22 Ballot Drop Boxes for six hours each. 6 Rotary leaders visited each site offering breaks and water. 1 Rotary volunteer coordinator assisted with recruitment, shift confirmations, and distribution of supplies.

Volunteers loved the experience. Rotary Clubs are eager to participate again! Some said it was the best community service experience in their Rotarian career.


Pierce County WSU Extension 4-H Program

Connie Medeiros is the backbone for the Pierce County 4-H Horse Project. She is also the club leader for the Kolts & Kitties 4-H Club and is active in the cat project. With the help of others she came up with events that horse members could participate in virtually for the Pierce County Fair. She spent many hours this past summer putting together the 4-H Horse booth in the Pierce County Fair Virtual Village. In this task she took what 4-H horse member had submitted for the fair and combined them into a PowerPoint Video for each member. Connie offered cat and horse members with countywide programs teaching project skills for the horse and cat projects.
Susan is the general club leader for the Just Kidding Around 4-H club and a superintendent in the 4-H Goat department. She has kept her club active using Zoom and other social media formats. Susan also serves as the editor for the Pierce County Fair Guide. This year has been difficult as the fair had to move from in-person to virtual format. She worked for hours to change the fair guide to meet the new requirements of the fair. She also helped with a new Spring Virtual Fun Fair to help keep 4-H members active and to help prepare them for the new County Fair format.


Parks and Recreation

Chuck Morrison is a citizen advocate who has chosen to work alongside government to promote the interests of his community. Specifically, he has been a champion of the Carbon River Corridor Cooperative Action Planning process. This summer, Parks needed to collect public input. Because of COVID-19, the survey was exclusively online and outreach options were limited. Chuck knocked on doors, hung fliers at businesses, and put notices on car windshields throughout the planning area to get the word out. We had a record 1,500+ survey responses!

Chuck trained himself to use Zoom and hosted the first Zoom meeting of the Carbon River Forum to ensure the group was updated on the plan’s progress. The Carbon River Corridor has limited internet, so Chuck arranged for small, socially-distanced groups of Forum members to watch the meeting together in homes with internet, ensuring that many more people were able to attend. Chuck works tirelessly to make sure that the County has the historical information and public engagement it needs to plan successfully. He has provided original plats showing the railroad bed that could be the future path of the Foothills Trail spur to Mount Rainier, and valuable information about the history of the towns of Carbonado and Wilkeson. His knowledge proved especially useful on a recent grant application for which he also coordinated a Letter of Support.

Chuck’s energy and enthusiasm has resulted in guidance and insights as well as old-fashioned legwork which have been incredibly useful and truly inspiring.

Department of Emergency Management - Emergency Radio ARES
Patrick Niles holds at least 7 positions within the Pierce County Amateur Radio Communications Services (ARES):
  • Training officer for some 277 volunteers which is a demanding job
  • Host for many of our two weekly zoom meetings.
  • Director on the Amateur Radio Communications Services (ARCS)
  • Public Information Officer
  • Assistant Emergency Coordinator for our South Pierce Team
  • Web-Master for two websites
These are just a few of the positions and activities he is a part of…and all with a young family and being engaged in a full load college program in Emergency Management. With his leadership, Pierce County Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (Pierce County ARES) has continued to move forward in these unusually difficult times.

Special Thanks:

Bruce Dammeier, Pierce County Executive

Derek Young, Pierce County Council Chair

Pierce County Government

Executive’s Office, Parks & Recreation, PCTV

Recognition Committee:

Helen Arnestad, Emmi Buck, Lindsay Derrick, Lissa Flannigan, Glenn Glover, Darleen Price, Jenn Sergent, Donna Vitale, Kyle Wintermute (Chair), and Debbie Yaranon.