Last Friday Tom and I had the privilege of attending the Stanwood-Camano Area Foundation Philanthropist Awards breakfast. It was a very moving experience. I was amazed at the mustard seeds that are already being planted in this community in which the Mustard Seed Village will be established, and felt proud to be a part of it even if only on the margins. This is obviously a community in which people care for each other and for the sustainability of their community.
This year there were four nominees for philanthropist of the year all of whom demonstrate how mustard seeds can make a difference in any community. The judges found it impossible to choose one recipient for the award and presented it to all four nominees instead. As you read about the nominees you will see why.
Don Hernan started a firewood ministry on his own – just to make a difference in the lives of single women families for the community who couldn’t afford to keep their homes heated. He spearheaded a community campaign to ensure local families received firewood to heat their homes and began leading teams to cut stack and distribute wood to needy families. The fire ministry now has nine distribution centers located throughout Skagit, Snohomish and Island counties. Last year his teams made over 400 deliveries of free wood.
Vivian Henderson has championed the cause of farming and farmers in the area for many years. is the co-founder of Harvest Jubilee and on the steering committees of Slow Food Port Susan and Port Susan Food and Farming Center. She is also working closely with Bastyr University to develop medicinal gardens.
Camano Island Builders Association is a dedicated group of individuals who donate time, talents and treasures to the community. They have built an adventure playground and renovated a dilapidated building that has become a vibrant center that provides clothes, toys and much needed items to families and individuals in need. it is a wonderful example of giving what you can and inspiring neighbours to do the same.
Dr James Grierson, inspired by the vision of establishing a free medical walk-in clinic in Stanwood, organized a dedicated group of local leaders who worked to establish the Safe Harbour Free Clinic. The clinic has provided comprehensive health care services to nearly 2,000 underinsured and uninsured patients since opening its doors in June 2009.