This week, Seattle Parks and Recreation is privileged to honor nine individuals and organizations who graciously donated their time to our parks system this year. We would like to congratulate all of the winners of this year’s 2014 Denny Awards and thank them for their service to Seattle Parks!
The Denny Awards acknowledge and honor the crucial role volunteers play in neighborhood parks, community centers and recreation programs throughout the city. In 2013, 41,244 people volunteered for Seattle Parks racking up 368,448 hours of service. Though the volunteers’ efforts are invaluable to the department, the Corporation for National and Community Service estimates that the value of a volunteer’s time in Washington is $22.69 per hour. That means in 2013, volunteers donated $8,360,085 worth of time to Seattle Parks!
This year’s winners are:
Conservation and Environmental Stewardship Award
Rich Appleton has been volunteering with Seattle Parks and Recreation since 1995. He has been the main volunteer at Nora’s Woods in Seattle’s Central Area since the park’s inception 18 years ago and has continued monthly and annual work parties there ever since. Rich has also been an active volunteer and leader at the nearby Leschi Natural Area since 2000.
Nora’s Woods previously was overrun with blackberry, ivy and other invasive plants and was frequently used as an illegal dump. Rich and other volunteers worked to transform the area into a beautiful neighborhood park, spending hundreds of hours removing invasives, and planting trees, shrubs and other plants. They also installed stairs, benches and walkways.
Rich has also worked with other park stewards to restore the Leschi Natural Area, participating in work parties since 2000. He works at Leschi every week and at Nora’s Woods every other day.
Former Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Ken Bounds’ contributions to the city’s parks system were well known during his tenure as the department’s leader in the 1990s and beyond. But Ken’s passion for Seattle parks has extended well into his retirement.
Most recently, Ken was instrumental in the establishment of the Seattle Park District, which secured a stable and sustainable source of parks funding that is the envy of cities around the country. Ken first explored the funding option when the department under his direction put together the 2000 Pro Parks Levy. After he retired, Ken continued to work on the idea and when Proposition 1 went on the ballot in 2014, Ken agreed to serve as chair of the campaign committee, leading a sophisticated campaign on a topic that became a hotly debated issue in the community and in the media.
Up and Coming Youth Award
A senior at Roosevelt High School, Samuel Bradley has volunteered with Seattle Parks and Recreation for the past two years.
While he could have spent his last two summers working or doing what typical teenagers do, Sam instead chose to volunteer with Specialized Programs’ summer camp for youth with disabilities, helping provide a camp experience for kids who may not have been able to attend a typical summer camp. In the spring of 2014, Sam also volunteered with Parks’ Special Olympics youth track and field program.
At summer camp, Sam provided invaluable support to counselors and directly engaged with campers with disabilities. He helped with activity planning, the canoe program at Green Lake, and serving meals at an overnight camp. He has accumulated more than 250 volunteer hours during the last two summers and was always willing to go above and beyond what he was asked to do, including staying past his scheduled shift.
Making a Difference Award
Clarke Gray has worked with Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Green Lake community for nearly 40 years.
As operator of the Green Lake Boat Rental concession at the lake, he built the small brick building that is still being used today for the boat rental operation in exchange for a 10-year concession agreement. Clarke pioneered the use of small row boats, paddle boats, sail boats and paddle boards at the lake, and the boat rental remains one of the most popular attractions at the park.
Beyond his successful business, Clarke has built community goodwill by offering many free hours of use of his equipment for the regattas at the lake and for summer camps for kids. In addition, he has allowed Parks’ Small Craft Center at Green Lake and the Mt. Baker Rowing and Sailing Center on Lake Washington to borrow and test his boats. He eventually sells the water craft to the City at cost.
Community Stewardship Award
Homeless Remembrance Project Committee
For more than 10 years, the Homeless Remembrance Project Committee has worked to create places of hope, healing and beauty in memory and in honor of homeless people. The committee is comprised of homeless women, faith leaders, designers, artists and other supporters in partnership with the City of Seattle.
One of those special places is in a portion of Victor Steinbrueck Park in downtown Seattle where “The Tree of Life” sculpture by Clark Wiegman was dedicated in 2012. This is the first sculpture of its kind in the country to honor homeless people and the group has provided stellar leadership to enhance and preserve this park space as a place of gathering for all people. The committee raised $200,000 for the project.
The tree and activities around it have activated a deserted area of the park, bringing numerous disparate communities together in new ways of understanding. This has included people who work at and visit the nearby Pike Place Market, homeless people, local residents, tourists, the faith community, people who advocate for homeless people, and city government.
Community Stewardship Award
Mt. Baker Boating Advisory Council
The Mt. Baker Boating Advisory Council has been supporting the Mt. Baker Rowing and Sailing Center for 30 years.
As a volunteer organization within the Associated Recreation Council, the advisory council has committed countless volunteer hours to providing high quality boating activities to the public. Considering the center’s location in southeast Seattle, the council has worked hard to reach out to and include a wide diversity of participants, including youth, adults, seniors, underserved communities, and special populations. The council funds scholarships and offers free public programs to ensure that cost is not a limiting factor to participation. One example: in partnership with the George Pocock Rowing Foundation, the advisory council developed Rainier Valley Rowing, a free program that involves teens of color in year-round competitive rowing. Another free program, the Summer Boating program, provides community youth with free access to kayaks, canoes and other boats. The advisory council raises funds to operate this program at no cost to participants.
One of its finest accomplishments was a project that expanded the center by 5,000 square feet. Over a period of 10 years, the council raised $2.7 million, mostly from small, individual donations and fund-raising projects. The group also obtained thousands of dollars of in-kind services for the project, including support piles and plumbing services. The expansion enabled many more people to participate in healthy recreation. In 2013, attendance in programs exceeded 36,000.
Community Partner Award
Seattle Children’s Hospital
For more than 20 years, Seattle Children’s Hospital has partnered with Seattle Parks and Recreation on numerous programs and projects to make water safety a high priority in the community, benefiting thousands of people. As a result, more families wear life jackets, more children know how to swim and more parents understand the critical importance of this life skill.
In particular, Children’s Hospital support has helped build awareness of water safety and scholarships for low-income children and children from various racial and ethnic communities. The hospital provided funding for promoting and marketing swimming lessons and water safety in multiple languages, a water safety brochure, an annual donation for swim lesson scholarships, donated life jackets for loan at public beaches, and discounted life jackets for sale.
In 2012, the Public Relations team from Children’s Hospital filmed a 30-minute program for Spanish-language television station Univision at Medgar Evers Pool. The filming focused on swimming lessons with the goal of encouraging more families to participate in swim lessons and recreational programs.
Parks Legacy Citizens Advisory Committee
The 15-member Parks Legacy Citizens Advisory Committee worked for 10 months exploring and eventually recommending a sustainable funding model for Seattle Parks and Recreation. The Seattle Park District, approved by the voters in August, is a direct result of the Committee’s thoughtfulness and hard work.
Committee members came to meetings well-prepared, having done often arduous homework, including reading and editing reports, reading a total of 794 emails and letters from the public over the course of the committee’s tenure, touring parks and facilities to gain a closer understanding of Seattle Parks and Recreation, and thinking through complex issues. As would be expected, there were differences of opinions, but the issues were always respectfully debated and ultimately resolved.
The committee’s diligence and focus on the public good has led to sustainable funding for Seattle Parks and Recreation which will improve lives in Seattle for generations. A special acknowledgement goes to the co-chairs, Charlie Zaragoza and Barbara Wright.
Jen Sonnichsen Parker and Klindt Parker
Jen Sonnichsen Parker and Klindt Parker of Parker Design House have been supporting the graphic design needs of the Denny Awards for the sixth year running.
Since 2009, Jen and Klindt have been dedicated to ensuring that the graphic design of each year’s Denny Awards is unique and reflects the special qualities of that year’s award winners and ceremony. They are dedicated to producing a top-quality product, and always make time in their busy schedules to be the volunteer graphic designers of record for the annual volunteer awards.
Months before the actual ceremony, Jen and Klindt meet with event organizers to learn more about that year’s venue and theme, and then go back to their offices and brainstorm ideas. They may present as many as six different graphic design options for organizers to choose from. They never skimp on professionalism or creativity because they are donating their services.
Their services to Seattle Parks and Recreation are valued at nearly $28,000, but their contributions are priceless.