The many ways of helping others help themselves emerged as the theme of this year’s Linda Lee Martens Community Health Hero Awards.
The honors were given out Wednesday by the Island County Board of Health and Community Health Advisory Board.
Helping Hispanic families of children with developmental disabilities navigate the world of special needs, helping seniors stay in their own homes and helping sailors stay out of trouble were just a few of the examples cited during the 90-minute presentation at the Whidbey Island Nordic Hall in Coupeville.
Each year, an individual and agency that has either directly or indirectly improved community health in a way that goes beyond the norm are chosen for the Health Hero Award and special recognition certificates from nominations submitted by the public.
The award, first presented in 2000, is named after Linda Lee Martens, the late executive secretary of Island County Public Health. She was also president of Soroptimist International and a memorable participant in many local activities.
The example of Martens, who is often described as an ordinary person with an extraordinary love for others, shone through in the naming of Lynn Willeford, of Langley as the adult Health Hero.
Willeford is the force behind starting seven non-profit organizations serving Island County, including Friends of Friends Medical Support, Hearts and Hammers, Back to School Project, Whidbey Island Local Lending and South Whidbey At Home.
“When Lynn Willeford sees a gap, she starts a volunteer organization to fill that gap,” Commissioner Helen Price Johnson said.
The Health Hero Award for an agency went to Camano Country Club volunteers who give 4,000 hours of their time to keep swimmers safe in the pool and assist with other of the club’s social, exercise and rehabilitation programs provided to Camano Island residents of all ages.
Special Recognition certificates were also presented to the following individuals and agencies:
• Barbara Brock, of Camano, for her 18 years of service as a member of the Water Resource Advisory Committee.
• Jason McDermott, of Oak Harbor, for starting a Challenge Little League team for kids with developmental and/or physical disabilities, the first in the area.
• Laiza Ramos, of Oak Harbor, who established a Hispanic support group at the Toddler Learning Center for families of children with developmental and/or physical delays.
• Casey Scott-Mitchell, of Oak Harbor, Prevention and Education Manager at CADA who has gone above and beyond her position to educate the community about interpersonal violence, and advocate for victims.
• Carmen McFadyen, of Coupeville, a long-time community volunteer, who’s served on the WhidbeyHealth Foundation board, Windermere Foundation, with schools, the Boys and Girls Club, Soroptimist International and Coupeville’s Neighborhood Emergency Team.
• Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions, of Oak Harbor, a volunteer peer-to-peer mentorship program that creates healthy alternatives for sailors, civilians, and families to promote physical and mental wellness.
• Community Resources Foundation, of Stanwood, an organization serving Camano Island residents providing resource referral and support, English as a Second Language classes, family budgeting classes, a mobile dental clinic, Teen Center, Lego Robotics, and teen “ready to work” mentor program.
• Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association, which collects and donates clothing, toiletries, food, blankets and other necessary items to clients served by Island County Human Services.
• Gifts from the Heart Food Bank volunteers, of Coupeville, which started 15 years ago to serve Coupeville and Greenbank families.
• Oak Harbor Christian Reformed Church, which stepped up to be the first 90-night host for The Haven, the overnight emergency shelter managed by Whidbey Homeless Coalition.
• Toddler Learning Center, of Oak Harbor, for assisting families through the early years of learning for children with developmental delays.