By Alejandro Dominguez Herald Writer
MONROE — While Janet Dee was enjoying a luncheon at the regional Society of St. Vincent De Paul in February, she noticed the three speakers were telling stories about her.
And then, they told her she had won the annual Top Hat Award to recognize her work for helping people in Monroe, Sultan and the Sky Valley area.
“I was flabbergasted. Until then, the award has always been given to people who had done fantastic things. I have not done anything like that,” said Dee, 77, who lives in Monroe.
According to executive director Jim Kehoe, she is understating what she does.
She is persistent in trying to help people, from paying their water bill to just providing a friendly shoulder for people to cry on, he said.
“When she finds a need, she doesn’t stop until she finds an answer,” Kehoe said. “I have seen her on a full day helping at a food bank. She doesn’t stop.”
She was selected to get the honor by a panel of past winners.
Dee is one of more than 300 volunteers in Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties that belong to the nonprofit.
The volunteers usually visit the people at their homes and provide different kinds of services by matching them with an agency.
Dee started 12 years ago after retiring as an Italian restaurant cook. She describes herself as being a caregiver, so it wasn’t that hard to become a volunteer.
She gets about 65 requests for help a month. She also gets a list of clients from the main office of St. Vincent De Paul in Everett.
“I really like that I’m making a difference in their lives,” said Dee, a grandmother of 19 and great-grandmother of 21.
She hopes more people volunteer in east Snohomish County, especially young people who could drive up to Gold Bar and Sultan.
And even though she has won the award, she doesn’t believe she is the top volunteer of St. Vincent De Paul. She also gets help from other volunteers at her conference at St. Mary’s of the Valley Church.
“I’m not saying that I’m great, but I am just filling a necessity,” she said. “We go out and give love.”
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; firstname.lastname@example.org.