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Seattle Parks and Recreation announces 2016 Denny Award winners

Annual awards recognize outstanding volunteer service

Today Superintendent Jesús Aguirre announced the winners of Seattle Parks and Recreation’s 2016 Denny Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Stewardship. The winners are a cross-section of Seattle’s most creative, dedicated and hard-working volunteers who donate precious time and energy to improving Seattle’s parks and recreation programs.

“Choosing award winners was a difficult task for us,” Aguirre said. “We are grateful to the many volunteers who contribute to Seattle Parks and Recreation’s mission of supporting healthy people, a healthy environment, and strong communities.”

In 2015, 38,386 people volunteered for Seattle Parks and Recreation, providing 270,360 hours of service, which is a donation valued by Independent Sector at $23.07 per hour or $6.2 million dollars in 2015.

Healthy People:
Leon Preston, Garfield Community Center
Leon Preston has served for more than 10 years as a Taekwondo teacher for participants ages 6 to adult at Garfield Community Center. Students from Leon’s program have competed in meets around the world. Leon’s goals while working with youth are to build life skills, self-confidence, leadership skills and compassion, and to promote racial understanding and engage at-risk youth. Leon has been teaching and practicing Taekwondo for 40 years and was a 2008 Olympic Games referee in Beijing, China.

Healthy People:
Leatha Bailey, Sound Steps, Rainier Beach Community Center
Leatha Bailey has volunteered for ten years as a Sound Steps walk leader, helping over 100 mostly senior walkers improve their health. Leatha helps support healthy people in the community by teaching behavior change, encouraging participants to lead a healthy lifestyle, transporting those who can’t walk to activities, and presenting at health fairs.

Healthy Environment:
Tom Kelly, Magnuson Environmental Stewardship Alliance and Green Seattle Partnership, Magnuson Park
For more than 20 years, Tom has removed invasive plants and planted native species to help restore acres of forested parkland at Magnuson Park. Tom has led hundreds of work parties with both students and corporate groups. In total, Tom has led 15,000 hours of volunteer work and planted 11,000 native trees and shrubs. This year, Tom’s quick action with CPR saved the life of a Forest Steward who had a heart attack at Magnuson Park. Tom is also a mentor for the UW Restoration Ecology Network Program.

Healthy Environment:
East African Senior Meal Program, Yesler Community Center
East African Senior Meal Program volunteers at Yesler Community Center grow food at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and bring it to the community center to cook and share with others. Over the past seven years, the Senior Meal Program has grown from only Ethiopian/ Eritrean elders to include Asian, Caucasian, mixed and African American backgrounds. The program helps elder adults access free, healthy, homemade and traditional food.

Strong Communities:
Rainier Community Center Advisory Council
For more than 20 years, the Rainier Community Center Advisory Council has supported countless volunteers, special events and fundraisers to encourage new, diverse programs for community members in this multicultural neighborhood.Council volunteers have helped to not only advise Seattle Parks and Recreation staff but also to be proactive in recruiting new members, creating new events, supporting new community initiatives like Rainier Valley Radio and Community Kitchens.

Strong Communities:
Andrew Miller, Lake City Community Center
Andrew has donated his time and materials as an artist to engage Lake City Young Leaders Teens in making murals to highlight the diversity of the neighborhood. Lake City Community Center volunteers are helping Seattle Parks and Recreation engage teens in cultural placemaking in Lake City.

Equity Champion:
Carol Valdrighi, Magnuson Community Center and Magnuson Park Advisory Council
Carol has advocated and raised resources so that diverse children from low-income families who live in the Solid Ground housing at the Magnuson Campus can take part in programs. Carol has created partnerships with Sand Point Elementary and their Parent Teacher Association, has tutored young children and taught parents how to apply for scholarships, and has advocated for an expanded Magnuson Park Community Center with more program hours.

Equity Champion:
Nancy Olsen, Lifelong Recreation, Sound Steps and Dementia-Friendly Recreation
Nancy and her husband Steve joined Lifelong Recreation’s Sound Steps walking program in 2007, and they founded the Sound Striders in South Seattle walking group in 2008. When Nancy’s husband was diagnosed with dementia, they decided to continue their walks and connect with others dealing with this loss by providing walk participants with stimulation and a supportive community. The committee decided to recommend Nancy for the Equity Champion award because inclusion for all abilities is an important part of social equity.

Superintendent’s Award:
Sea Mar Community Health
Founded in 1978 with the sole mission to provide comprehensive health and human services to families in Washington State, Sea Mar Community Health Center is a supremely reputable community-based organization that has honed its services and ties to South Park by positively impacting the health and wellness of its patrons though the execution of case management, medical, dental, as well as behavioral health services. Leveraging Preventative Health Programs as well as Community, Education and Service Learning Programs that aim to increase the healthy eating habits amongst its clients, this organization engages in a plethora of program services that help South Park build a sense of community. In building that community, this organization has partnered with the South Park Community Center to extend its recreational and preventative health services. These services include not only a Soccer Preventative Health Program that serves an average of 235 youth annually, but also cooking programs, health education services and fitness activities that reach upwards of 1,500 community members annually.

Seattle Parks and Recreation is extremely grateful to the thousands of people who dedicate themselves to supporting healthy people, a healthy environment, and strong communities.

The Denny Awards are named after David T. and Louisa Denny, who in 1884 donated land for the first Seattle park (Denny Park), where Seattle Parks and Recreation headquarters is located.

Seattle Parks and Recreation gratefully acknowledges Denny Award sponsors and supporters: ARC, Seattle Park Foundation, and Parker Design House.