The annual Hometown Hero award is given to an individual who dedicates an outstanding service to Federal Way and its community.
In the 12 months of 2022, the Mirror shared stories of truly remarkable people, each with their own tie to, or purpose found in, Federal Way.
When deciding on a winner, it was impossible to simply pick one person. As the rest of the 2023 Best of Federal Way category winners were voted on by the community, the Hometown Hero award is selected by Mirror staff members.
This year’s Hometown Heroes of the Year are David Harrison, executive director of nonprofit FUSION, and local community member Jamony Young, Hometown
In April 2022, Young hosted the third annual Ja’Zai Young toy drive. Donations from the event each year are donated to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma and Seattle Children’s Hospital.
“I just felt like this would be a great thing to do in honor of him,” said 29-year-old Young, a Federal Way native.
His son Ja’Zai was born in March 2016 with esophagus atresia, a birth defect where the tube connecting a baby’s mouth to its stomach does not develop properly. A day after he was born, Ja’Zai underwent surgery, Young previously told the Mirror.
The next two years consisted of hospital stays, and various procedures to help him heal. On Oct. 16, 2018, Ja’Zai died from surgery complications, Young said. Grieving the loss of his son lingers, but Young said he made a decision to be positive for the people around him.
“Me being a parent who understands you feel the need to take on your kids’ battles for them, I understood how other kids and parents might feel,” he said of long hospital stints and health challenges. “It definitely helped inspire me to create this movement.”
In December 2022, David Harrison spoke with the Mirror about his time leading the nonprofit organization, FUSION. Harrison started volunteering for the nonprofit in 2013 and became director in 2021.
Harrison says his passion for the homeless housing nonprofit comes down to the kids that pass through its doors.
Now a little over two years in the captain’s seat of the Federal Way-based nonprofit, Harrison is working with a team of volunteers and sponsors that served more than 150 families experiencing homelessness in 2022.
FUSION operates several local programs: Its transitional housing program puts families in a condominium or single-family home for six to 12 months while those families get job training and other resources.
The Pete Andersen FUSION Family Center, opened in 2020, is an emergency shelter that brings in families for a two-to-three-month span.
“When you say the word ‘homeless,’ a lot of people (think of) a guy pushing a shopping cart down the street,” Harrison said. “That’s one part of it. But the lady in line behind you at QFC with three kids in the shopping cart, she (might) be homeless too. They’re just trying to hold it all together, couch surfing, living in a car, staying at a motel or with family and friends. What leads to it … is a wide variety of factors.”
Hometown Heroes of 2022
January: Jeri-Lynn Clark, longtime executive assistant to the Federal Way City Council, left her role after 21 years working with the City of Federal Way.
February: John Martin Kurosky, longtime and well-loved president and owner of Eagle Tire and Automotive, who died in 2022 due to complications from cancer.
March: Capt. Tom Thorson of South King Fire and Rescue, who celebrated 50 years of service.
April: Jamony Young
May: Probation Supervisor Stacie Scarpaci was named Probation Supervisor of the Year.
June: Irene Graham, who turned 103 and is an award-winning local artist.
July: Local volunteer Cheryl Hurst earned a Key to the City of Federal Way for her many contributions to the community. Hurst also hosts an annual March of Diapers fundraiser to provide diapers for families in need.
August: Shelly Cain is a volunteer at the Friendship Theatre, which provides opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to perform in theatre productions.
September: Federal Way High School alumni Nick Tanielu, who is a professional baseball player.
October: Adam, who advocates for the Multi-Service Center and its resources after battling substance abuse and homelessness in his own life.
November: Teri Foster, the first female Federal Way National Little League president since 1991.
December: FUSION Executive Director David Harrison