PORT ANGELES — Leslie Kidwell Robertson clutched a pair of paint-splattered sweatpants while accepting a Clallam County Community Service Award last week.
Robertson displayed the tattered pants to highlight the various projects that she and others in the Revitalize Port Angeles Facebook group have completed since 2014.
“It’s a road map for some of the things that we’ve done,” Robertson said, identifying blotches of paint.
“Here’s the Laurel Street stairs. There’s the observation tower. This is when we re-striped the parking lot.”
“The thing about these sweatpants that is so meaningful to me is that for every blob of paint on there, it’s not just me that was doing it,” she added.
“There were five other people, maybe 10 other people, 20, 30, and that’s what makes this community so special.”
Four local heroes — Tim Crowley, Edna Petersen, Judy Hendrickson and Robertson — each received a Clallam County Community Service Award on Thursday in an annual ceremony at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Port Angeles.
It was the 40th anniversary of the awards sponsored by Soroptimist International of Port Angeles-Noon Club and the Peninsula Daily News.
A panel of judges selected the 2019 Clallam County Community Service Award winners from nine volunteers who were nominated.
Port Angeles City Council member and former Mayor Cherie Kidd of the Soroptimist International of Port Angeles-Noon Club hosted the award ceremony. About 80 attended the event.
Crowley received the award for leading the Community Tuna Fish Drive, which supports the Port Angeles Food Bank, for the past 25 years.
“Tim has succeeded in leadership or in support in arranging for the delivery of about 500,000 cans of tuna,” said former state Rep. Jim Buck, a 2018 Community Service Award recipient, while introducing Crowley.
“That’s feeding a lot of people, and it’s not just tuna.”
These days, many donate to the tuna drive with cash instead of cans of tuna, allowing the food bank to purchase other forms of protein at low costs.
“This year, we set a goal of the equivalent of 25,000 cans of tuna, and I’m happy to announce as it’s winding down that we’ve raised over 28,800 cans worth,” Crowley said.
Crowley, a member of the the Olympic Kiwanis, challenged other local service clubs to participate in the tuna drive, which led to friendly competitions and more tuna for the food bank, Buck said.
“The tuna drive works because you just kind of organize it and everybody else does the work,” Crowley said.
“The only reason it’s gone for 25 years is not because I wanted to do it for 25 years, but because the support is still there.”
Hendrickson was given an award for taking a lead role with the Mount Pleasant Community Association, a group of about 500 families in the unincorporated areas east of Port Angeles and south of U.S. Highway 101.
“Others living on the mountain call her home ‘information central,’” said Betsy Reed Schultz, executive director of the Captain Joseph House Foundation.
“And she has been one heck of an operator.”
Hendrickson organized the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Emergency Response Team. She heads up emergency response and shelter-in-place training, pens a monthly newsletter that covers weather events and suspicious activity, oversees several committees and watches over her neighbors’ pets, according to nomination forms.
“She has made a huge difference in making the Mount Pleasant neighborhood a safer community,” Schultz said.
Hendrickson thanked her neighbors while accepting her award.
“If anything happened, a disaster of any kind, we have to know our neighbors and we have to be able to depend on them, and we have to have a plan,” Hendrickson said.
“That’s what we’ve been trying to do in the Mount Pleasant community.
“In practicing your plan, you can save your family’s life and those around you,” Hendrickson added.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to do, and I thank everybody for that, all the people in our neighborhood.”
John Brewer, former Peninsula Daily News editor and publisher and 2018 Community Service Award recipient, said Petersen is like a famous rock star who is known by one name: Edna.
“Everybody who knows her, who works with her, knows our community rock star by just her first name,” said Brewer, who nominated Petersen.
Petersen received the award for her long history of volunteerism.
She has served on the City Council, Chamber of Commerce, Olympic Medical Center Foundation, Port Angeles business and downtown associations and helped to expand the annual Fourth of July celebration into a daylong waterfront festival.
In 1993, Petersen was the co-leader of a drive to make the YMCA debt-free and helped erase a $600,000 mortgage on the Y’s new building.
Over the years, she created downtown sales events, worked to bring cruise ships to the city and volunteered at numerous charitable events.
In 2009, Petersen was one of three people who coordinated the massive Paint the Town campaign in which 45 buildings and storefronts were cleaned, painted or repaired.
More recently, Petersen was the driving force behind the Port Angeles Winter Ice Village and ice skating rink that surpassed expectations for revenue and attendance between November and January.
Clallam County Commissioner Randy Johnson said Petersen has a knack for motivating people to help improve their community.
“She cares, and that kind of spirit that is just a wonderful thing,” Johnson said.
Petersen recently closed Necessities & Temptations, an iconic gift shop in downtown Port Angeles.
She described being a volunteer as an “exceptional experience.”
“There is no amount of money involved in volunteering,” Petersen added.
“You can work in the rain. You can work in the sunshine. But the one thing about volunteering: It’s really good job security because you can never get fired.”
After moving back to Port Angeles from Los Angeles, Robertson launched a Facebook page with a crew of volunteers who tackled several projects in Port Angeles.
Among other things, Revitalize Port Angeles cleaned and painted the Laurel Street stairs, raised money toward the purchase of the Lincoln Theater and spearheaded a community campaign during Outside magazine’s “Best Town Ever” contest in 2015.
“She took it upon herself to become Port Angeles’s biggest cheerleader,” said Jim Hallett, a 2018 Community Service Award recipient, while introducing Robertson.
Port Angeles finished second to Chattanooga, Tenn., in the online contest, besting Santa Barbara, Calif.; Bainbridge Island; Glenwood Springs, Colo.; Flagstaff, Ariz.; and Bar Harbor, Maine.
Several nominators mentioned Robertson’s compassion in organizing condolence banners for Chattanooga residents after a mass shooting there and delivering them to the city.
Robertson serves as a board member for the food bank and for Girl Scouts, organizes apple pie eating contests during the Fourth of July celebration, helped with Light Up the Lincoln fundraising, helped to welcome the Lefties and served as an Arts and Draughts festival volunteer.
“We live in one of the most amazing places in the world,” Robertson said.
“It’s beautiful physically. Our geography is amazing. But what makes it really special is the people. I can’t imagine living in any other community.”
Serving as judges were Donna and Jim Buck, both of whom were awarded a 2018 Community Service Award; county Commissioner Bill Peach; Elisa Simonsen, manager of First Security Bank; Schultz; and Hallett.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].