The Sumner Downtown Association held its inaugural First Citizen awards banquet last week at Farelli’s. Awards were given for outstanding youth, adults, seniors and organizations for their contributions to the community.
“First Citizen recipients hail from humanitarian organizations, charitable and educational institutions, art groups, environmental causes and other civic endeavours,” SDA Program Director Laurie Miller said. “They represent a cross-section of the prominent leaders and unsung heroes whose good deeds have touched so many lives in our communities and have encouraged others to do more.”
Bonney Lake High School Senior Crystal Ho received the award for young adult volunteer for her work with the SDA. She was praised for her work on Rhubarb Days, and for her enthusiasm for working with children.
“I never thought that just volunteering would lead to this sort of recognition for me,” Ho said.
The Sumner Lions Club was recognized as the volunteer organization of the year. The club has 1.3 million members worldwide. In Sumner, it was recognized for giving out second-hand eye glasses, for its children’s diabetes camp, for collecting school supplies and for supporting returning veterans.
Green Mountain Coffee also was recognized. In Sumner since 2009, the company has become one of Pierce County’s largest job creators, from 182 employees at the start to 325 today.
Lt. Marc Lash was recognized as the fire first responder of the year. He won the award not only for his work as a training officer but for his work on “Mission Safety,” an educational program aimed toward youth and schools to teach people about fire safety.
Mission Safety features Lash and fellow fire-fighters who perform skits in schools countywide. Lash even attended clown college in order to perfect his performance.
“I never thought I could get an award for being a clown,” Lash said.
The First Citizen award went posthumously to Gordon “Gordy” Andersen, who died of complications from cancer last year. The award was accepted by his wife, Mary Andersen, and his daughter, Brooke Knight.
Miller said Andersen was the first person she met while she worked for the SDA.
“At first, I was taken aback by his constant questions, suggestions and ideas,” Miller said.
She quickly warmed to Andersen’s energy and enthusiasm and said he “knew the value of a small town, especially one like Sumner.”
Knight said she always heard about her father’s “love of the town” and told the SDA that, as she and her husband recently moved back to the area, she “looked forward to getting to know all of you.”
Other award recipients were Sumner Police officer Matt Eller, former city council member Leroy Goff, the Spartan Agency, Nancy Dumas and Ted and Jan Hackmann.
Miller decided to start the event because the community from which she relocated held a similar ceremony. She remembered it brought the community together and thought Sumner would benefit.
Although Miller was pleased with the response, she expects the event to be different in the future.
“It will transform,” she said. “Next year, we’re going to be getting a lot more people involved.”
She intends to have more community input on nominations, with officials, business leaders and citizens having a say.
“We need the community to tell us what they want and what they think is important,” Miller said.