SEQUIM — After more than five decades of honoring a key individual, or individuals, for their volunteerism and devotion to the community, local business leaders are giving kudos to the hundreds who helped Sequim get through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce and a committee of former Citizen of the Year winners named Sequim’s essential workers the recipients of the 2020 Citizen of the Year award.
“It is clear no single person could be singled out in an immeasurably harsh year and therefore for the first time ever, a group award is being issued,” chamber executive director Anji Scalf said in a chamber press release on Tuesday.
“Whether these people belong to a faith community who made masks, community service clubs and nonprofits assisting with a never-before-seen need, people who went to work because their job required on-site presence and the many others who provided essential tasks that kept our community solid, we want to say thank you,” Scalf said in the release.
The chamber also gave kudos to staff and volunteers working with local entities such as Olympic Medical Center and other health care personnel, Sequim School District, Clallam County Fire District 3, City of Sequim, along with staff at local daycares, restaurants, grocery stores and other essential retail stores, local media, hospitality businesses, the U.S. Postal Service, public transit and members of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
In a later interview, Scalf said this year’s honor goes out to everyone who “rolled up their sleeves” to help others get through the pandemic.
“Every time I think about it, I get really teary,” she said. “I literally don’t have the word to express (that gratitude).”
The Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce traditionally awards the Citizen of the Year honor — and occasional Humantiarian Awards — in February, but the committee of former award recipients said they wanted to meet in person before they made the choice for 2020, Scalf said.
“I think it’s an excellent path to take,” she said of the committee’s decision.
Chamber representatives said they plan to honor essential workers at the organization’s annual Picnic in the Park, set for Aug. 25 at Pioneer Memorial Park, 387 E. Washington St.
Scalf said that, as in previous years, local and regional legislators are being invited to attend.
Details will be announced later this summer; see sequimchamber.com for more information and updates.
Scalf said the chamber plans to offer a virtual component for those who are unable to attend in-person.
Nominations for 2021 Citizen of the Year will open in December 2021.
Created in 1968, the Citizen of the Year Award was designed to recognize those individuals who contribute to the betterment of the community. Former Sequim mayor Peter Black was the first recipient of the award. The chamber named either one or two recipients since then except for 1973, when none was awarded, and 1976, when three people were honored.