Mikayla Smith has a talent for making people feel special.
The Wilson High School senior and cheerleader is not just your average hard-working civic volunteer, but also a makeup artist.
“She helps people who are homeless or struggling in their lives in many ways,” said Kala Dralle, economic development specialist for the city of Tacoma. “But she also does more.
“She teaches women of all ages how to use makeup in a tasteful way. She helps empower them by making them feel beautiful and confident.”
In recognition of her work, Smith, 18, was named one of the 12 winners of the 2016 City of Destiny Awards. She was honored with this year’s Youth Leadership Award.
Tacoma’s City Events and Recognition Committee recently announced the top volunteers — groups and individuals — who will be recognized at an event in June by Mayor Marilyn Strickland and the City Council.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the awards.
Volunteers are honored for work in many fields, including innovations in education and environmental sustainability, said Maria Lee, communications specialist with the city.
“The depth and breadth of their experience is so varied,” she said. “There are a lot of great volunteers in Tacoma. It’s just that kind of city.”
For example, Smith is involved with many volunteer organizations in her community, at her school and in partnership with her church. She also works with foster children and volunteers at local retirement centers.
Dralle said it’s important to honor volunteers and their hard work.
“We recognize that a lot of the heavy lifting gets done through these volunteers,” she said. “It’s amazing how many wheels turn in the community that are purely unpaid volunteers doing the work.”
Award winners are chosen by a vote of the City Events and Recognition Committee.
“Tacoma is just full of outstanding volunteers,” Lee said. “Many of them quietly donate their time and energy and you would never know that they’re doing it until someone decides to nominate them for this award.”
Winners include not just individuals, but also groups and organizations.
“We’ve had more groups this year than we’ve ever had before,” Dralle said.
The Dometop Neighborhood Alliance, for example, is a group of neighbors who partner with several other agencies, including the city of Tacoma, Tacoma Public Schools, Metro Parks, the Tacoma Housing Authority, the Pierce Conservation District and the Tacoma Police Department.
The group worked on a “de-pave” project by helping remove 10,000 square feet of concrete and blacktop and to plant some 6,000 trees in the McKinley Business District.
Additionally, it runs neighborhood patrols on weekends and during events at the Tacoma Dome. Members also help with projects in McKinley Park and throw the McKinley Street Festival.
Another award-winning group, the Wilson High School Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, works with families in need, wounded veterans and families of veterans.
They were designated a National Junior ROTC last year.
At holidays, the Corps helps families by sorting and distributing toys at Christmas and throwing parties for Halloween. Members also host Boy Scout Camp Hahobas and clear trails throughout the community in the fall.
They frequently host events honoring Army rangers who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and perform as the color guard at many community events.
Working with them is another City of Destiny Award recipient, Cmdr. Alan Mandigo, who is being recognized in the Adult Leadership category.
Mandigo was hired as Stadium High School’s first naval science instructor more than 22 years ago.
By example, he involves students in community service, leadership and self-discipline, Dralle said.
Mandigo’s volunteer projects have benefited the city, the Stadium District, local Junior ROTC units, local veterans organizations and more, she said.
“He is a great leader who is also an extremely nice and helpful person, full of energy,” Dralle said. “He is so devoted to his students and he is definitely deserving of this award.”
The 2016 City of Destiny Award recipients
Youth Leadership: Mikayla Smith
Adult Leadership: Cmdr. Alan Mandigo
Lifetime Service: Elizabeth (Bette) Miller
Youth Service: Wilson High School Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps
Environmental Sustainability: Agnes Pate and Melissa Galinda
Equity and Empowerment: Frank J. Gavaldon
Dometop Neighborhood Alliance
Equity and Empowerment
Community Health and Wellness
Pierce County Project Access Healthcare Volunteers
South Tacoma Soccer Club
For more information:
Go to cityoftacoma.org/DestinyAwards.
If you go
The ceremony honoring nominees and recipients of the the 2016 City of Destiny Awards will be from 5 to 8 p.m. June 3 at the STAR Center, 3873 S. 66th St., Tacoma.