Tacoma to honor top volunteers at Rainiers pre-game ceremony

Tacoma News TribuneMay 13, 2014 

Tacoma will award its 28th round of City of Destiny awards to the city's top volunteers later this month.

The ceremony will be May 28 at 5 p.m. at Cheney Stadium. Mayor Marilyn Strickland and City Council members will recognize the award winners, who were picked by the city's Events and Recognition Committee.

United Way of Pierce County’s Retired and Senior Volunteer (RSVP) Program and the Tacoma Rainiers are partnering with the city on the event. A 5 p.m. reception for award winners will be followed by an on-field ceremony and parade. Each 2014 award winner also will be recognized between innings during the Rainiers-Salt Lake Bees game that begins at 7:05 p.m.

Game tickets are available at a reduced price with the promo code “destiny” using this link.

The 2014 City of Destiny Award recipients are:

Youth Leadership: Joan Vo, president of the Wilson High School Key Club, helped raise enough money for Kiwanis International to pay for 300 neonatal tetanus immunizations. Under her leadership, the club also raised money for the March of Dimes and collected food for needy families. Joan also has volunteered at the Catholic Community Services' holiday party for foster children.

Youth Service: Nina Thach spends Saturday mornings working with patients in the Rehabilitation Unit at St. Joseph’s Medical Center. She also has volunteered with Relay for Life, Birney Elementary School, Cambodian Temple, Salvation Army, March of Dimes, St. Leo’s Food Bank, among other organizations. And she has maintained a 4.0 GPA while attending Mount Tahoma High School and Pierce College.

Adult Leadership: In 2011, Mike Mowat, a retired businessman helped create a mobile food bank to serve neighborhoods without brick-and-mortar food banks. For two years, he kept the truck maintained, stocked its shelves, drove it to food distribution sites and trained volunteer teams at each location. In the mobile food bank's first year of operation, it served 29,000 people.

Adult Sustained Service: Cathy Barta has been the leader of the Mann Neighborhood block watch for roughly eight years. She has started walking groups, taught neighbors how to spot and report illegal activity, worked with the police to close down drug and prostitution operations and organized neighborhood get-togethers and graffiti cleanups.

Environmental Sustainability: Tacoma Nature Center Park Stewards Cyndy Dillon and Bill Brookreson coordinate habitat restoration work parties with other stewards twice a month. Park stewards spend a lot of time choosing which plants to add to the Snake Lake habitat, which invasive plants they need to remove and documenting restoration work within the city-regulated wetland habitat.

Youth Group: Stadium High School Navy Junior ROTC, now in its 20th year, completed 60 community service projects in the past year, contributing an average of more than 36 hours for each of the 110 cadets. Projects included food drives, creation of hygiene bags, collecting toys, making cards for children in the hospital, providing honor guards for community events, participating in the Adopt-a-Street program and volunteering to clean up Julia’s Gulch.

Community Partnership: Tacoma First Nazarene Church was nominated for its community outreach projects in South Tacoma. It sponsors a community egg hunt at Whitman Elementary, a Harvest Bash, an Independence Celebration and a Christmas feast. It also supports three Safe Streets groups in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Equity and Empowerment: Wilson High School students Addison Matthews, Adaiya Granberry and Madisynn Kroll launched Project Unify to give special needs students a chance to play soccer and change their perceptions of themselves. The project's founders coach and play alongside the special needs students against similarly composed teams.

Community Health and Wellness: In 2009, Janet Runbeck's founded RotaCare Chronic Disease Clinic, a clinic to serve low-income, uninsured patients. The clinic saw 125 patients in its first year. After the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, Runbeck helped the patients obtain health care insurance. She was so successful that the clinic closed in January. She continues her volunteer work helping plan Project Homeless Connect to provide homeless people with medical, dental and vision care.

Youth Mentorship: Ron Rzewnicki started volunteering with Metro Parks Tacoma in 2012 at the STAR Center in South Tacoma, where he uses his training as a chef to teach adult and youth cooking classes that incorporate everything from history to math. He often spends his own money on ingredients and also spearheaded the cooking for this year's STAR Center Chili Chase fun run.

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