TULALIP —At a Spirit of Snohomish County Breakfast that highlighted heroism and generosity displayed after the Oso mudslide, United Way of Snohomish County on Wednesday also honored people who have spent years working to better the lives of others.
Sarri Gilman, who in the early 1990s founded Cocoon House to shelter homeless teens in Everett, was awarded this year’s Spirit of Snohomish County Reeves/Sievers Founders’ Award. The award is named for J.A. Reeves and Roy Sievers, who in 1940 formed the Everett Community Chest that evolved into United Way of Snohomish County.
Throughout the breakfast at the Tulalip Resort Casino, there were moments to honor those who responded after the March 22 mudslide that claimed 43 lives.
Coastal Community Bank was honored with the Spirit of Snohomish County Community Partner Award largely because of its decision to forgive debts of families who lost property — homes and cars — in the mudslide and were not insured.
Laura Byers, a bank executive, said in a video shown during the breakfast that the bank had customers who lost loved ones in the slide, and that some employees lost homes. “Coastal forgave loans because it was the right thing to do,” she said.
Applause also rose as Oso Fire Chief Willy Harper and three others from the volunteer fire department stood to be recognized. Darrington Mayor Dan Rankin, Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert and people working with family support agencies in Darrington and Arlington were asked to stand and be recognized.
Fundraising for mudslide relief was also noted. Four organizations — United Way, the Snohomish County Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation and the Greater Everett Community Foundation — received about $9 million for disaster aid after the slide.
Dennis Smith, president and CEO of the local United Way, described the Reeves/Sievers prize given to Gilman as the agency’s equivalent of a lifetime achievement award.
In accepting the award, Gilman recalled visiting the Cocoon House Complex recently and seeing a tree that was planted years ago to commemorate a teen’s life. “That tree has grown huge,” said Gilman, who now has a private practice as a therapist. She said it was an honor to know that “many of the things you do over so many years add up to something.”
For a decade after establishing Cocoon House, Gilman was its executive director. Cocoon House now helps teens and young adults with facilities and programs around the county, among them a Maternity Group Home in Arlington.
The keynote speaker at the breakfast was Rich Harwood, founder and president of the Maryland-based Harwood Insitute for Public Innovation. He commended people here for their help after the mudslide.
Harwood, who was involved with decisions in Newtown, Connecticut, after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, urged organizations and communities to turn outward rather than inward, and to focus on shared aspirations.
These other awards were announced at the breakfast:
Spirit of Snohomish County Youth Award: Kim Tran
A recent graduate of Mariner High School, Tran is a member of United Way of Snohomish County’s Teen Leadership Council. Through four years of high school, she volunteered for United Way’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. She was involved with the YMCA of Snohomish County’s Minority Achievers Program. She spearheaded video projects to broaden the reach of United Way’s Youth United program. Tran is now a freshman at Seattle University.
Spirit of Snohomish County Adult Award: Kay Field
With expertise in family law, in 2002 Field created a free legal clinic for the YWCA Pathways for Women site in Lynnwood. It’s a partnership between the YWCA and Snohomish County Legal Services providing access to legal help that families otherwide could not afford. Field dedicates hours each week to this pro bono work. According to her videotaped interview shown at the breakfast, Field has sometimes shared her mental health issues with clients to make them feel at ease.
Spirit of Snohomish County Labor Award: Paul Schubert
A shop steward for the International Association of Machinists &Aerospace Workers (IAM) District 751, Schubert has helped with the annual Letter Carriers Food Drive and many other union service projects. This year he was instrumental in the union-organized peanut butter drive to benefit Volunteers of America food banks. A Marine Corps veteran, he volunteers with Toys for Tots. He has also served food at the Everett Gospel Mission and built wheelchair ramps.
Jerry Goodwin, CEO of Senior Aerospace-Aerostructures, is this year’s United Way campaign chairman. He commended supporters of last year’s campaign — 13,054 people from 418 companies, agencies and unions.
“Our theme this year is Building Community Together,” he said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.