By Zorina Barker
For Peninsula Daily News
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The award honors the “dedication, sacrifice and accomplishments” of community leaders and volunteers “who have made a difference in Clallam County, who have made our communities a better place by doing extraordinary things for their neighbors, their community or the environment.”
The honorees are:
■ Hearst and Jerri Coen, a dynamic couple who have given their talents to the local AARP Tax-Aide program, Olympic Land Trust's StreamFest fundraisers, Franklin and Evelyn Plant Green Point Foundation and several neighborhood improvement groups.
■ Linda deBord, spirited and dedicated leader of “Pink Up Port Angeles,” which benefits Operation Uplift cancer screenings and support groups.
■ Ron Jones, tireless Port Angeles High School “music man” and inspirational orchestra leader.
■ Wayne Roedell, a horticulturist with community service in his heart who has poured thousands of service hours into projects and fundraising for the Nor'wester Rotary Club and The Answer for Youth.
■ Mark Schildknecht, whose passion for lending a hand leads him to local fire districts and law enforcement, KSQM-FM, Clallam County Emergency Management team and Mount Olympus Detachment 897 of the Marine Corps League.
This is the 35th year of the award, begun by the Peninsula Daily News and now co-sponsored with Soroptimist International of Port Angeles-Noon Club.
Free, open to public
The six recipients will receive framed award certificates at a reception that begins in the downstairs meeting room at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 301 E. Lopez Ave. in Port Angeles, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday,
The reception is open to the public and will include beverages and special desserts.
Admission is free.
A blue-ribbon judging committee selected the six from 25 nominations made by individuals, clubs, churches, businesses and other organizations.
“These are truly local heroes, working to make community life stronger, tighter, happier, richer — busy people who unselfishly give their time and energy to help others, who always seem to be able to make time to offer a hand or a shoulder,” said John Brewer, PDN editor and publisher.
Jones' volunteer work is an extension of his job as a music teacher at Port Angeles High School.
“His orchestras have become iconic in the Washington-Oregon region, bringing home awards and titles year after year,” wrote Paul Martin of Port Angeles.
Martin's six-page nomination letter notes that Jones has spent extraordinary amounts of “volunteer hours to teach his students community awareness” as well as music.
Choosing and preparing music to showcase his students' talents and doing special performances for community groups takes a huge amount of time, a great deal of which is done outside normal classroom hours.
Seven times since 1989, Jones' student musicians have been invited to Carnegie Hall in New York.
Taking large groups of student-musicians across the country requires much fundraising, plus practice for the concert at Carnegie. Jones has been essential to both efforts.
Jones has received many accolades for his selfless work on behalf of local youths, including two proclamations from the Port Angeles City Council, Real Hero Award from the Red Cross and Outstanding Service Award from the Boy Scouts.
The importance he finds in community involvement is something he teaches his students, encouraging them to volunteer for the North Olympic Discovery Marathon, Teddy Bear Tea fundraiser for Olympic Medical Center and picking up litter from downtown Port Angeles streets.
“The scope and quality of his work is matched only by the accomplishments of the thousands of musicians he has trained and who are now scattered to the four corners of the earth,” Martin wrote.
Jones was eligible to retire nine years ago but told the Peninsula Daily News that he didn't do it because he was “having too much fun.”
“Pink Up Port Angeles,” deBord's brainchild, supports Operation Uplift, a Peninsula-wide nonprofit cancer support group.
While working on the annual golf tournament to benefit Operation Uplift, held by Soroptimist International of Port Angeles-Noon Club, deBord had “the brilliant idea to involve the entire community with a week-long event” of fundraisers to increase support for the group, Gwyn Callis wrote in her nomination letter.
Added Operation Uplift Executive Director Liz Zenonian Waud:
“She sold her idea to everyone she could contact. She talked to banks, feed stores, realtors, insurance companies, restaurants, private business owners, lawyers, tribal leaders and anyone she saw.”
In 2010, the three Clallam County commissioners declared a week in mid-June to be Pink Up Port Angeles Week.
The rest is history. More than $50,000 was raised during Pink Up Week last year.
DeBord also has served on the board of the Port Angeles Food Bank and helped create its “Operation Turkey” fundraiser.
“She actually dressed up in a turkey suit to help the cause,” wrote Beth Velie, who also added that the calligraphy that graces the food bank's thank-you notes each year came from deBord's pen.
DeBord's has been elbow-deep in other community events, from involvement in the creation and maintenance of Valley Creek Estuary Park to the Clallam-Olympic AIDS Walk to working as a juvenile diversion volunteer and for Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County. Wrote Callis:
“Linda is a community hero in many ways, and acts as an excellent example of how we can all serve in our community.”
Hearst and Jerri Coen
“They are truly unsung heroes. Few probably are aware of the work they do quietly and with little recognition,” wrote Jim and Robbie Mantooth of Port Angeles in a nomination letter.
The Coens have volunteered in the two-county Clallam and Jefferson AARP Tax-Aide program for years.
Tax-Aide volunteers assist senior citizens and low- and middle-income taxpayers file their personal income tax returns; there is no charge.
Hearst, a retired Navy submarine commander, has served as the district coordinator and spent months focusing on recruiting and training volunteer tax preparers.
Jerri is the client facilitator, arranging appointments and calming down stressed-out filers.
“Hearst is always going 'above and beyond' for his volunteers and for the taxpayers,” wrote Carol Volk. She adds, “Jerri is a kind and generous volunteer.”
“Hearst and Jerri have made significant contributions to the development and operation of the Franklin and Evelyn Plant Green Point Foundation,” wrote Robert and Elaine Caldwell, president and secretary/treasurer of the foundation.
The Coens donate time, money and equipment to help the foundation and its Green Point Preserve, 65 acres of forest, wetland and beach areas near Port Angeles.
As one of the North Olympic Land Trust's biggest fundraisers, the annual StreamFest salmon dinner “could not have happened without them. Hearst made it a zero-waste event,” wrote the Mantooths, who received the Community Service Award in 2012.
Their letter noted how food, dishes and utensils were all recycled, maximized or composted under Hearst's management.
“Every neighborhood and every community should have a Hearst and Jerri that make a difference in our quality of living,” wrote Paul Onopiuk, a neighbor of the Coens.
“This nomination represents a lifetime of caring and service,” wrote Gary Smith, president the Nor'wester Rotary Club of Port Angeles, in his nomination letter for Roedell.
Nor'wester Rotary has been
the launching pad for many of Roedell's volunteer projects.
He was the prime mover behind the “Olympic Visions” mural at the Conrad Dyar Memorial Fountain area in downtown Port Angeles.
He's been a go-to guy who gets the job done, whether it be ticket sales for Nor'wester Rotary's annual drawing for a car, its yearly Arts in Action summer festival on the Port Angeles waterfront or friendship dinners at local churches.
Roedell is “the quiet presence” who inspires other volunteers, wrote the Rev. Timothy Hughes of First Baptist Church in Port Angeles.
“From him they gain inspiration, motivation and the confidence to know they can make a difference for the people around them.
“I've watched people emerge from planning meetings and heard them boast, 'Of course we can, we've got Wayne with us.'”
Susan Hillgren is director of TAFY — The Answer For Youth — a homeless teen and young adult outreach program and drop-in center in Port Angeles.
A recipient of the Community Service Award in 2010, Hillgren provided a long list of areas in which Roedell has jumped in to assist TAFY.
“Wayne does all of these things with a smile on his face, a song in his heart, and never does he tell us 'no,'” she wrote.
“Wayne is absolutely the best.”
One of the Community Service Award judges wrote one word — “remarkable” — on a worksheet evaluating Schildknecht for the award.
Sequim Police Chief William Dickinson nominated him.
“Schildknecht is in fact a local hero, is the picture of a great role model, and has a demonstrated history of personal giving to our community and nation,” wrote Dickinson.
He noted that Schildknecht had been a volunteer with Clallam County Fire District No. 2 and the sheriff's Marine Patrol, and has given hundreds of hours to crime-fighting, community service and helping senior citizens through Sequim's Volunteers in Police Service program.
Work as broadcaster on KSQM-FM in Sequim since 2009, Schildknecht has amused and educated listeners with his “Mark in the Morning Show” on weekdays.
Schildknecht used his experience from driving for Clallam Transit, from which he had retired, to become a volunteer bus driver for the Sequim Senior Center and Boys & Girls Club.
He also served on the senior center's board of directors.
A former Marine with two tours in Vietnam, he has been was active in Mount Olympus Detachment 897 and the Honor Guard of the Marine Corps League.
Toys For Tots, a Marine Corps Reserve project, has seen Schildknecht's involvement. He was assistant coordinator in 2013 and was voted Marine of the Year by the local detachment for his outstanding work on this campaign.
A regular blood donor, he has given almost 8 gallons of blood.
“It is rare to find a citizen who gives so much and so unselfishly to the residents of his community,” wrote Dickinson.