Federal Way boasts two finalists for Washington State Jefferson Award

Peggy LaPorte (left) and Megan Johnson, both of Federal Way, are two of the finalists for the 2011 Jefferson Awards. - Courtesy photos
Peggy LaPorte (left) and Megan Johnson, both of Federal Way, are two of the finalists for the 2011 Jefferson Awards.
— image credit: Courtesy photos

FUSION founder Peggy LaPorte and Megan’s Mission founder Megan Johnson, both of Federal Way, are among five Washington State Jefferson Award winners honored for outstanding volunteerism.

LaPorte and Johnson were chosen from more than 210 names submitted this year in the local competition sponsored by the City Club of Seattle and King 5. Selection was narrowed to five honorees, one of whom will move on to be considered for a national Jefferson Award.

Initiated in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Sen. Robert Taft Jr., this “Nobel Prize” for public service is a nationwide effort recognizing the highest ideals and achievements of volunteerism in the country. Five Washington State Jefferson Award winners are selected and celebrated annually.

During the week of March 28 to April 1, “Evening Magazine” on King 5 TV will air stories about the five Washington finalists. The public will get to vote for their favorite. An awards breakfast will be April 13 at the Space Needle.

Seattle CityClub provided the following summaries of LaPorte and Johnson:

Peggy LaPorte

In 1993, Peggy LaPorte recognized a need to help the homeless in South King County and founded FUSION (Friends United to Shelter the Indigent, Oppressed and Needy). Seventeen years later, FUSION operates under LaPorte’s guidance with an all-volunteer staff of over 200 to provide transitional housing to those in need. The organization owns 16 units. LaPorte’s tireless pursuit of government grants, corporate sponsorships, private donations and volunteers testifies to her tenacity. Her organization has become a nationally-recognized non-profit, and has changed the lives of over 165 families by providing them with a secure environment and clear goals to help them get back on their feet.

Megan Johnson

Megan Johnson has accomplished more in her 19 years than most do in a lifetime. Though she endured 27 surgeries to correct a facial disorder, she has worked tirelessly to help those less fortunate in her community. She is the founder of Kids Helping Kids, an organization that collects and distributes DVDs to the patients in children’s hospitals; From the Heart, an organization that makes and distributes blankets for babies affected by drugs or poverty; and Megan’s Mission, an organization that gives out blankets and other necessities to the homeless to remind them that they are not forgotten. She has donated much of her own money to various causes, from the local homeless shelter to victims of Hurricane Katrina.


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