‘Heroes’ honored for improving Island County community health

South End resident David Lee Gordon receives his award.

Around 125 people gathered Tuesday night to celebrate some of Whidbey Island’s most civic-minded citizens as the 2015 Linda Lee Martins Memorial Community Health Heroes.

“That was one of the most pleasant public meetings I have ever attended,” said Adam Fawcett, who was nominated for initiating an injury-reducing fitness program at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders. “So very nicely done, so positive.”

The Linda Lee Martens Memorial Community Health Hero of Island County Award Criteria recognizes individuals or agencies that have “directly or indirectly impacted community health.”

Nominees are requested from the community and then selections are made by the county’s Community Health Advisory Board.

“It’s powerful to hear the stories of our Health Heroes each year,” said Catherine Ballay, chairwoman of the advisory board. “They’ve found so many different ways to build up our communities and the people in them —because they care.”

Linda Lee Martins was formerly the executive secretary for public health; the award was created in her name after her death and has been in place for 15 years.

“She was a wonderful lady,” said Keith Higman, director of Island County Public Health. “This is a way of providing recognition for those who wouldn’t be recognized otherwise.”

A proclamation was written for each honoree and presented to them as a Certificate of Special Recognition.

The 2015 Health Hero awardees are:

• Personal trainer Adam Fawcett for his “Morning 10” workout at Nichols Brothers. “He reminds us that ‘sitting is the new smoking’ and declares he wants to change the way America ages.”

• Retired pastor David Lura for spending hours picking up trash all over Oak Harbor.

“That pastor’s heart still connects him with the people he encounters on his daily patrols.”

• Cancer survivor Julie Engstrom for providing transportation and support for those struggling with cancer. “It is a wonderful gift that Julie shares with those she transports and advises.”

• Dietician Erin Simms who volunteers for and participates in health events. “At each opportunity, she inspires others to be healthy.”

• SPIN Cafe director Vivian Rogers-Decker for battling hunger and homelessness. “It seems that this caring individual can’t help but get involved wherever she sees a need.”

• Dog owner David Lee Gordon who spends up to four hours a day picking up dog waste and garbage at a Bayview park. “Removing dog poop and disposing of it properly is truly a public health and safety activity.”

• Petty Officer First Class Maryann Cowan for her work with the Impaired Driving Impact Panel of Island County. “Maryann has given well over 100 hours to the prevention of impaired driving on our roads.”

• Substitute teacher Patricia McCutcheon for her “affirming and empowering” teaching style. “She encourages each one to do his or her best and always try.”

• Navy Exchange Vending Manager Jill Erickson for her efforts in bringing healthy foods to outlets across Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. “Now the tasty cheeseburgers and fries compete for customer attention with healthier, and very attractive, options.”

• South Whidbey Homeless Coalition for a establishing a new organization to combat homelessness. “When a group of concerned individuals became aware of an increasing problem of homelessness in their community, the South Whidbey Homeless Coalition came to life.”

• Whidbey Audubon Society for its advocacy for habitat conservation. “As we begin to think about each creature’s place in the ecosystem, we begin to think about the habitats they need and what we can do to protect them.”

• Hillcrest Elementary Green Team for identifying problems and implementing solutions. “The Green Team is a group of staff and students united in their commitment to incorporate health and environmental education into their learning curriculum.

• Kids for a Cause, a group Coupeville Elementary students who started the Breast Cancer Club in response to a parent’s illness. “These students have helped to create an awareness of breast cancer among their peers and in their community.”