PORT ANGELES — Six recipients of the 40th annual Clallam County Community Service Awards embraced the theme of selflessness last week, an attribute that led them to give countless hours of time freely and without compensation.
If what the experts say is true, that good works release the happy hormone dopamine, the hour-long virtual ceremony Thursday evening was awash in good feelings made possible by people who lead by example without seeking acclaim.
From a ninth grader to a former Ms. Senior USA to Santa Claus, they did what they still do because it must be done.
Jayson Grice, Gary Gleason, Donald McIntyre, Tim Tucker, Cherie Kidd and River Jensen were chosen from about a dozen 2020 nominees, the winners honored this year to make up for the event postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The accolades, founded by the Peninsula Daily News in 1980 as a single Citizen of the Year award, are cosponsored with Soroptimist International of Port Angeles-Noon Club and bestowed on three to eight persons annually.
“These are everyday people who have found ways to serve others and give back to their communities, often with very few resources and often with very little recognition,” PDN Publisher Terry Ward, who emceed the event, said in kicking off the program.
The recipients were introduced by judging committee members. The committee included Kidd and Tucker, who did not take part in their own selections.
Chris Thompson from the Port Angeles Waterfront Center said Grice is as generous as he was when the two attended Port Angeles High School together.
The owner of J. Grice Construction LLC has been a volunteer baseball coach, Nor’Wester Rotary Club member and Skate Park development participant, answering the call of service unbidden.
He donated a company motorized scissor lift for three months to help restore the huge murals in downtown Port Angeles, saving organizers $8,400.
“You’re a community volunteer that’s under the radar,” Thompson said, noting how Grice helped a family on McDougal Avenue whose home was struck by a tree in 2018 during a windstorm.
“You did that quietly and took care of the family,” Thompson said.
“I don’t like to make a big deal out of what we do,” Grice said, tipping his hat to the other recipients. “I’m always willing to come and help, especially when it comes to community.
“You can’t take and take and take from the community,” he added. “You want to continue to have your community strong. This has been really nice, and great for the heart.”
Peach, a Clallam County commissioner, introduced Gleason, saying he’s worked with him when Gleason served on the Discovery Trails Advisory Board as well as the county planning commission.
Peach recalled someone complaining that Gleason should be removed from the planning commission because “he’s really committed to his position and he digs his heels in and makes his position clear,” the person told him.
That’s the kind of person Peach wants on the planning commission, Peach said.
“You talk about longevity and the spirit of volunteering in this county, and Gary really typifies that,” he said.
Gleason has served many years on the board of CCH Individualized Support Services for individuals with disabilities.
Gleason recalled helping a support services class learn how to carve wooden bowls when a staff member heading the class was escorted out by a police officer, leaving him to take charge.
“I guess they figured if I could cope with that and not panic out, I could be on the board of the group home.”
That was in the late ‘60s, and he’s been a board member ever since.
Kidd introduced Jensen, he first youth Community Service Award recipient for nominees under 18.
Jensen has been volunteering since she was 6 when she served meals at The Salvation Army.
That inspired her to do more.
At 10, Jensen began putting together Christmas gift bags after noticing that some Salvation Army clients needed toiletries, hats and gloves.
“She had her heart open for the homeless and people less fortunate,” Kidd said, adding that Jensen’s project has grown from 1,000 gift bags to more than 7,000.
Jensen has included notes that say, “I love you, don’t give up, you can do this,” Kidd said.
“What an outstanding example she is for our youth.”
Jensen, an honor student and volleyball player, thanked others in the community who have helped her with the project, especially her mother, Amanda.
“I don’t think I could have got this going without her, and she was just a ginormous part of being in this and helping me continue,” the teen said.
Lena Washke, a Soroptimist Noon Club board member, introduced McIntyre, who was dressed up, in character, as Santa Claus.
He has regaled children and adults during the holiday season for 50 years, 15 as a Toys for Tots ambassador.
While serving a stint in the Marines between 1959-1963 and stationed in San Diego, he was ordered to put on his dress blues, white gloves and fake beard and attend a children’s party as Santa Claus. “The children loved him, and likewise, he loved the children,” Washke said.
McIntyre later moved to Federal Way. In 1970 he volunteered to be Santa for a Lowe’s hardware store, insisting the company partner with the Marine Corps’ Reserve Toys for Tots campaign.
He and his wife, Sharlene, moved to Diamond Point in 2005. The Toys for Tots ambassador has collected more than $65,000 in program donations over the last eight years.
“Fifty years has gone by very fast,” McIntyre said.
“I have a new target,” he said, displaying a rendition of a 55-cent postal stamp with picture of Santa.
“If the post office increases the postage rates, I will have to adjust my standing as to how long I will be going on.”
Leslie Robertson, a past Community Service Award recipient, introduced Tucker as “the minister of fun” for the happy attitude he infuses into planning events.
Tucker, the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce board president, almost single-handedly created the Peninsula Soccer Academy and helped put together the annual Winter Ice Village. The much-anticipated venue will open for one month in downtown Port Angeles beginning Friday.
“Tim is a rink manager, yet again, for the third year in a row,” Robertson said. “It means you sacrifice a week of your life,” Robertson said.
“The thing about Tim is, he doesn’t just have these great ideas and say, hey, let’s do this and let’s do that. He jumps in and makes it happen.”
Tucker thanked Roberston for the minister of fun moniker, which “I will never live down,” he said.
While growing up in Seattle, he often visitied an aunt and uncle on the North Olympic Peninsula, never thinking he’d leave the Emerald City.
Now, after he and his wife visit the city, “we breathe a sigh of relief when we hit the floating bridge,” he said.
Addressing those watching him online, “you’re the big reason why,” he said.
“I do have a lot of fun, I like to create a lot of fun, but because we do live in a place where people really do pitch in and help out, I feel like a duck swimming in water.
“I kind of just giggle every day when I realize I ended up here and get to do what I do,” he said.
Former PDN editor and publisher John Brewer — himself a recipient of the 2018 Community Service Award as well as an emcee of past ceremonies — introduced Kidd, a three-term Port Angeles City Council member, former mayor, and longtime volunteer.
Brewer noted Kidd has been a volunteer for more than 20 years and is a founding board member of the William Shore Memorial Pool District.
“She helped save our pool when so many others wanted to write it off and close it,” he said.
Kidd also spent several years pushing for safety fencing on the two so-called “suicide bridges” spanning Eighth Street, pushing past objections and getting it done in 2018.
A Ms. Senior USA 2019-2020, she is now an official senior UN ambassador to inspire women “to achieve their personal best,” Brewer said.
“Can-do heart, confidence, spirit, proven ability to motivate and organize others, dedication in the face of multiple obstacles, that’s Cherie Kidd.”
A cancer survivor who talks with cancer survivor groups, Kidd had some further remarks as past president of the Noon Club and a planner of Thursday evening’s event.
She was inspired by the recipients, who just give “because by giving it enlarges your heart,” she said.
“By giving, you receive so much back in personal growth and love and just cherishing your community.
“You can’t give without it giving back more, you can’t.”
Ward said Friday that 42 people registered for the online event.
Soroptimist Club members will hand-deliver framed certificates to the honorees this week.
Nominations for the 2021 awards will be sought around July 1, with an awards ceremony in the fall.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at email@example.com.