This was Monday night at a ceremony honoring my mom as Bellevue’s Volunteer of the Year. She had no idea anyone knew about the event, so when 25 of her nearest and dearest showed up, she was totally pissed (in a good way).
I’m pretty sure the city council meeting hasn’t seen this much action in, well, its existence. I’m also pretty sure it was unprecedented when all of us virtually emptied the room after her item on the agenda concluded. There was audible laughter as we all scampered out of the room before the mayor could begin the discussion on traffic congestion on 4th Avenue.
We high-tailed it to John Howie Steak House to raise a glass to a woman who quietly works to improve the lives of the disadvantaged. Let’s emphasize the “quietly;” she was mortified to be recognized. And she’ll be just as mortified that I mentioned her here.
Sorry, Mom, but you ARE the Volunteer of the Year. The cat’s officially out of the bag anyway.
In case you’re interested in the speech that was read to introduce her:
The City of Bellevue Volunteer of the Year Award is designed to recognize volunteers who have not only made a significant contribution to the community or to an individual, but have also gone above and beyond the call of duty, shown leadership, innovation, creativity, collaboration and partnering.
Tonight we are honoring the City of Bellevue Community Volunteer of the Year, Alyson McMurtry, who serves at the Jubilee REACH Center.
The Jubilee REACH Center provides community based programs to meet the needs of the diverse and underserved Lake Hills Community of Bellevue, Washington. All services at the JRC are offered free of charge and rely heavily on volunteer support. The Jubilee REACH Center serves families and individuals in the Lake Hills community regardless of age, gender, religion or ethnicity.
Alyson started a no-cost English-as-Second-Language Program (ESL) with 5 adult students in a church Sunday school basement room. The program has grown to 186 students, 53 volunteers and operates 4 days a week in 7 classrooms.
Building close relationships with their students, Alyson and her volunteers saw deeper needs and connected students to support services at Jubilee REACH Center. As a result of her efforts, her ESL students received free dental and medical care, counseling, legal assistance, Christmas gifts, rent and utility assistance, eye glasses, computer classes and computers, before school childcare, after school care, job search help, parenting classes, exercise classes and winter coats.
Furthermore, Alyson has given untold hours as an active volunteer at First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue and throughout the Bellevue community. Among other accomplishments she has:
- coordinated preparation and serving of annual Thanksgiving Dinner for 450 neighbors for 10 years;
- served on the Hunger Ministry, feeding hungry Bellevue neighbors;
- coordinated the Alternative Gift Market, raising money for local underserved families and the poorest people of the world; and
- taught English at Hopelink for 5 years.