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Announcing the Winners of Seattle Parks and Recreation’s 2019 Denny Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Stewardship

Superintendent Jesús Aguirre announced today the winners of Seattle Parks and Recreation’s (SPR) 2019 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.

“As our city continues to rapidly grow, we depend on volunteers to help us expand the reach of our services and achieve our mission of supporting healthy people, a healthy environment and strong communities through a lens of equity,” said Jesús Aguirre, SPR Superintendent. “We could not do the work that we do without our amazing volunteers who contribute to all areas of our organization, such as coaching youth sports, assisting staff in inspecting parks for maintenance needs, staffing community events, providing input as members of one of our advisory councils, serving on our Board of Park Commission and oversight committees, and so much more—contributions that allow us to have one of the best parks and recreation systems in the country!”.

In 2018, 31,260 people volunteered for Seattle Parks and Recreation, providing 174,510 hours of service, which is a donation valued by Independent Sector for Washington State at $31.72 per hour or over $5.5 million dollars.

Healthy People

Michael Neguse – Yesler Community Center

Michael is a volunteer community organizer for Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Food and Fitness program, which provides opportunities for elders to congregate and celebrate their culture and language through meals as well as social, educational and fitness programs. Michael helps serve primarily East African community members, and the programs he coordinates have on average 50 people per session. Michael, who makes it a point to always treat everyone with respect and dignity, is consistently encouraging new people from the community to join the group for lunch.

Healthy Environment:
Friends of Lewis Park- Dee Dunbar, Peter Kalmes and Rick Paulsen

Friends of Lewis Park (FOLP) is made up of community members who have been working in the park since 2009 on a variety of projects, including helping to restore Lewis Park to a more natural landscape and improving the habitat for native plants and animals. The group works on making the park a more enjoyable place to walk and learn about the native environment. FOLP has spent many hours with students from Beacon Hill International School as well as with Eagle Scout Troops to help support young people in making better connections to the environment. Over the years, FOLP has worked with 3,088 young people on volunteer projects and 2,808 adults, and they have pursued many grant opportunities for various park improvement projects.

Strong Communities:

Build Lake City Together-, Chris Leverson

The Lake City neighborhood in NE Seattle is extremely diverse and the Build Lake City Together (BLCT) organization has been doing invaluable work making the community stronger. BLCT helps bring people from many different cultures together through a variety of free community events, such as concerts, live theater performances, cultural dance lessons, community conversations around parks and recreation topics, neighborhood cleanups and more. BLCT has also actively nurtured relationships with teen programs such as the Lake City Young Leaders program, a community-based leadership and career training program that builds leadership capacity for youth of color and connects young people with career opportunities. BLCT also supported the creation of the Lake City Teen Mural project in 2016. Since the program launched, more than 100 Lake City teens have helped create and paint over 40 murals in the neighborhood, an effort that has empowered our youth with leadership and arts skills while deterring graffiti and improving and beautifying the neighborhood.

Equity Champion:
Next Gen Bridge Club – Anne Farmer, Shirley Johnson

Anne Farmer and Shirley Johnson co-founded the Seattle Next Gen Bridge Club, a free and unique afterschool recreation program that teaches students the fabulous card game of bridge. The program first launched approximately six years ago at Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Community Learning Centers (which provide a variety of academic, enrichment, recreational and culturally specific activities for students at Seattle Public School sites) and has since grown to include sites at schools across the greater Seattle area. Anne seeks out opportunities for students to play in bridge tournaments outside of Seattle to keep students excited and engaged in the program, and she helps recruit volunteer staff to support the program. Shirley has been teaching adults to play and enjoy bridge for over 30 years at Rainier Community Center and at the Central Senior Center. Shirley helps provide a welcoming, inclusive and supportive environment for anyone interested in learning bridge, and she continues to pick up and take many seniors to and from games herself.

Superintendent’s Award:

William Lowe

Mr. Lowe is a Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Board of Park Commissioner and has served on the Board of the Associated Recreation Council (ARC), a Seattle Parks and Recreation key partner. Mr. Lowe has demonstrated a strong commitment to providing recreation services to all people in the city. He is the Chairman of the Board of the Lowe Communications Corporation, a media consulting firm. His media career began in Seattle and took him to CNN when it was just beginning. Mr. Lowe created the American Scene Award for excellence in diversity media hiring and continues to have an impact on the broadcast industry on a mission of equity in all areas of communication.

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

The winners of Seattle Parks and Recreation’s 2019 Denny Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Stewardship will be honored at an event on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Sodo Park Herban Feast (3200 1st Ave. S).