Vaughn teacher Matthew Mills, left, receives the 2015 Citizen of the Year Award from Lions Club President Hal Wolverton. Photo: Ed Johnson, KP News

The annual award honors anyone who has gone above and beyond to improve life on the Key Peninsula. Residents are encouraged to nominate candidates by Jan. 15.

The annual Key Peninsula Lions Club Citizen of the Year Award will be presented for the 35th consecutive year during a celebration March 30 at the KP Civic Center. 

“The award was created 35 years ago to recognize people who do outstanding work in the community,” said Hal Wolverton, the local Lions Club president.

“Anybody who lives on the peninsula, works on the peninsula or even owns property on the peninsula who makes whatever you feel is an outstanding contribution to society is eligible,” he said. “It was designed for volunteers, but it’s not limited to volunteers because some people go way above and beyond what the call of their duties are and we want to recognize that.” 

Like the award itself, the Citizen of the Year evening ceremony has evolved over the years into what is usually a sold-out celebration with food and drink and a chance to mingle with community leaders and elected representatives ranging from the county to federal levels. A number of citations are often given commending local achievers, in addition to the Citizen of the Year Award, in keeping with the Lions Club motto: “We serve.” 

The evening also includes a keynote speaker and a variety of raffles and other opportunities to donate to the Lions Club and local nonprofits. “It (the award celebration) wasn’t founded or intended as a fundraiser, but it’s become our operating budget and whatever we get goes right back into the community,” Wolverton said. 

Among other local services, the KP Lions Club provides eyeglasses and hearing aids to KP residents, awards the KP Lions Memorial Scholarship to high school students, organizes highway cleanups and an annual Volksmarch, volunteers its labor and expertise to maintaining and improving KP parks, and distributes free dictionaries each year to every third-grader on the KP and to Key Peninsula Middle School, according to Wolverton. 

The speaker this year will be Jud Morris, who retired at the end of December after 13 years as Pierce County community director at the Children’s Home Society of Washington and Key Peninsula Family Resource Center. He remains president of the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation. Morris received the Citizen of the Year Award for 2014.

“This award shows the importance of volunteerism, but that’s not all it does,” Morris said. “It’s a great example of the Key coming together to honor people, and it’s about how the KP works and how many good things there are about it.

“The focus has changed I think because it’s impossible for anyone to have a very positive, lasting effect on the Key or anywhere unless they work a great deal longer and harder than their job hours; you have to be invested—embedded—you can’t just do your hours and go home,” he said.

Lions Club Treasurer Claudia Jones said, “It’s an important award and an important night because you get to hear about the great things these (nominees) are doing and you get to meet them, maybe for the first time. When you’re working at one thing, you don’t necessarily see what’s going on anywhere else, what other good is being done. At Citizen of the Year, you get that and you’re reminded how good we (on the KP) are at taking care of our own.”

Nomination forms are available at the Key Center fire station, library, community office and the KP News office. The deadline for nominations is Jan. 15.

Tickets for the award evening will be available in February at Purdy Cost Less Pharmacy, Sunnycrest Nursery or from any Lions Club member for a donation of $25.

For more information, go to the KP Lions Club website at e-clubhouse.org/sites/keypeninsulawa

Citizen of the Year Award Winners

2017 Dee Dee Kerkes
2016 Anne Nesbit
2015 Matthew Mills
2014 Jud Morris
2013 Danna Webster
2012 Jeff Harris
2011 Ed Robison
2010 John Biggs
2009 Mike Salatino
2008 Edie Morgan
2007 Chuck West
2006 Phil Bauer

2005 Tim Kezele
2004 Christi Watson
2003 Erlene Twidt
2002 Nancy Lind
2001 Marge Adams
2000 Tracy Manning
1999 Louis Aguilar
1998 Lulu Smith
1997 Irene Zimmer
1996 Fred and Mary Ramsdell
1995 Angel Guild group: Richard and Barb Hanna; Gerald and June Seich
1994 Cy and Eileen Young

1993 John Van de Brooke
1992 Ida Curl
1991 Tracey Manning and Kricket Stephenson
1990 Karla and Dick Crocker
1989 Ruth Bramhall
1988 Dale and Claudia Loy
1987 Marguerite Bussard
1986 Vicki Henschell and Laurette Jaggi
1985 Dr. William Roes
1984 Sally Cornman

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