SLIDESHOW: I Celebrate You 2011 shares the love for unsung heroes

From staff reports:

Federal Way author Nandell Palmer hosted the third annual "I Celebrate You" event for the city's unsung heroes at a reception Nov. 19 at Our Savior's Baptist Church.

The program is a way for the community to say a public thank you to its unsung heroes. From mentors and volunteers to mothers and fathers, nominees were honored for their selfless attitude toward community service and making a difference the lives of others. About 35 local citizens were honored at the love-filled ceremony, attended by about 420 people.


(Click here to see a slideshow of the honorees)

• Sandra Allnock: She started a company called Operation Write Home, which sends thousands of postcards to U.S. troops overseas so that they can write home to their loved ones.

• Roy Andresen: He is executive director of the South Sound Dream center, which services people in need of food and shelter, along with at-risk children.

• Harold and Rose Blackwell: Each year, the pastors and their congregation provide holiday meals and gifts to families in need.

• Joseph Bowman IV: He is the pastor at Integrity Life Church in Federal Way and is active in several Federal Way community organizations.

• Marvin and Roberta Brown: The couple have dedicated their time to cooking and serving two meals weekly for the homeless. They also act as liaisons between their church CKBF and New Hope during extremely cold weather.

• Venice Brown: She is a natural caregiver who works with expectant mothers to identify at-risk Native American women in low-income and isolated communities, linking them to early prenatal care. She is currently her 84-year-old mother's caregiver.

• Silvia Cazares: She volunteers for the Latino community and is known for her innovation with setting up events.

• Linda Cope: She helped a friend who was battling breast cancer by praying, cooking and giving medical support. She is also known for having a giving heart and welcoming new friends to her home for a meal.

• Bruce Dixon: He is founder of Young Educated Athletes, a girls basketball club in Federal Way. He trains and mentors young students.

• Cindy Ducich: She brings her contagious energy and enthusiasm to multiple boards and committees in Federal Way. Her involvement includes Centerstage, Multi-Service Center, FUSION, Federal Way Chamber and more.

• Enid Dwyer: She is Jamaica's Honorary Consul to the State of Washington and the Pacific Northwest — and is the face of Jamaica in this region.

• Carmeta Francis: She has volunteered on the Board of Central Youth and Family Services for 10 years, advocating for youths.

• Hulet Gates III: He is a mentor and coach who teaches life skills to King County youth, inspiring his subjects to seek good healthy outlets.

• Alex Green: He is vice president for Barbers Against Hunger, and also coaches youth baseball and basketball.

• Paula Griffin: She traveled the world as a missionary, then later adopted four orphaned boys from Malawi, Africa.

• James Hampton: He is the CEO of the Aaron Brooks Foundation in Seattle and devotes himself to empowering youth to become successful citizens.

• Bruce Honda: He was nominated by his wife, Susan, for being a supportive and outstanding husband, father and mentor. He is a tireless volunteer with church and Scouts.

• Nancy Jaenicke: She leads Reach Out Federal Way, which provides food and shelter to homeless men and women during the cold winter months.

• Cheryl Cuthbertson-Jones: She was nominated by her son, Anthony Hogan, for giving back to the community. She would take in people off the street and find them shelter, schooling and work. She also founded Sisters of Vision in Tacoma to help young girls.

• Glen and Janet Lee: The couple have volunteers for years at the Federal Way Senior Center's food pantry in multiple capacities.

• Leonid Lisitsyn: He is president of the Desna Soccer Club, which implements his gifts for being a father, educator and citizen into his children's growth.

• Dick Mayer: He is the community involvement coordinator for Walmart in Federal Way and is involved, either as a volunteer or supporter, pretty much everywhere in the community.

• Bette Simpson-Opstad: She is known for her longtime service with the Federal Way Arts Commission and is well-loved as a citizen and mentor in the arts community.

• Nicolay Pastuhov: He is the head of prison fellowship at Tacoma Detention Center International Church. He conducts spiritual work in the form of gospel music for inmates.

• Bob "Coach" Roach: This affable Southern charmer is a cornerstone of the senior softball scene and started the annual Prayer Breakfast in Federal Way.

• Mary Robinson: She keeps record of and hands out slips to needy families that come for food at the Federal Way Senior Center's food bank. She also mentors children at Lakeland Elementary.

• Darla Ross: According to her mother, Darla cannot help herself when it comes to giving. She mentors and cares deeply for people in need, especially family.

• Elvira Rybakov: Her work has contributed to unification of the Slavic community, the preservation and development of Slavic language and culture, and the intensification of friendly relations between the Slavic and English-speaking residents of Washington state.

• Vasily Stupin: He is president and founder of the Association of Slavic Immigrants USA. He was nominated for being the mastermind behind this group, which filled a void in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

• Dory Synn: She is known for wearing several hats over the years when it comes to community service. Her daughter, Angela, said: "She taught us through her example the importance of serving our community as a duty, not an option."

• Susan Toohey: She works with FUSION as a client-unit manager who helps maintain condos for families in transition. She is also events decoration chairperson for the annual FUSION summer arts festival.

Additional honorees

• Kailee Kelliher: Megan's Mission founder Megan Johnson presented the Megan Johnson Award for Charitable Excellence to Kailee Kelliher. She was honored for collecting food donations in lieu of birthday gifts - a practice that began 10 years ago for her fourth birthday.

• Monda Holsinger: Federal Way Mayor Skip Priest presented Federal Way AmeriCorps director Monda Holsinger with the Mayor's Award for Community Service.

• Ryan Lee: The Thomas Jefferson High School senior received the Bob Wroblewski Award for Community Excellence based on his video and web skills as well as service as a tutor and swim team captain.

• Isaac Wani: The Federal Way High School senior earned the Janice Siebenaler Award for Community Service for his heavy community involvement, which includes the Federal Way Farmers Market.

About the show

The evening included live entertainment with food provided by East India Grill. Emcees were Q13 Fox News anchor Angela King and Mirror publisher Rudi Alcott. Guest speakers were FUSION founder Peggy LaPorte and John Vassall, chief medical officer, Swedish Medical Services. Entertainment included the Korean-American Music Association Choir and a dance tribute titled "Carry Your Candle" by Consuelo Palmer with Esmeralda Valenzuela and Jocelyn Jones.

Nandell Palmer is executive director of Write a Blessing Media and author of "Blessings at Your Fingertips." He contributes a twice-monthly column to The Mirror. Contact (206) 327-2228 or


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