Story last updated at 5/6/2009 - 11:12 am
SITKA - Community wellness champions from all walks of life were honored last week for the work they've done making Sitka a healthier place to live. The awards were presented during the third annual Sitka Health Summit community dinner April 29 at Harrigan Centennial Hall.
Community members were asked to nominate people who made a difference or role model in one of the six wellness award categories. An awards committee from the Sitka Health Summit decided on the final recipients. One individual and one group were honored in each of the six categories. There also was a special award created in 2008, called the Steve Reifenstuhl Award, that honors a local athlete for his or her commitment to physical fitness and for being an extraordinarily active community wellness role model. The following community members were honored with awards.
• Dorothy Orbison for her work leading the Strong and Steady group at the Swan Lake Senior Center.
• Sitka Skippers for helping young people stay fit through the sport of jump rope. This group is led by Twila Keaveny.
• Florence Welsh for the Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Gardens, which is one family's way to eat more local foods.
• Sitka Local Foods Network for expanding Sitka's community gardens with the building in 2008 of the St. Peter's Fellowship Farm and adding of new garden beds at the Blatchley Community Garden, for working on a plan to build a Sitka Community Greenhouse, and for starting the Sitka Farmers Market with three markets in 2008 and six scheduled for 2009. This group is led by Linda Wilson and Kerry MacLane.
Tobacco Prevention and Control:
• Ryan Kauffman for his work with the Sitka School District to educate young students about the dangers of tobacco and helping those who already have started get the support they need to quit before they get totally hooked.
• Sitka Elks Lodge No. 1662 for choosing to pass its own clean indoor air policy in 2006 so that kids could continue to participate in club functions.
Injury Prevention and Safety:
• Ray Majeski for his work with the Sitka Ports and Harbors Commission, which installed 70 ladders at Sitka's harbors with another 100 ladders on order.
• Sitka Tribe of Alaska for providing bicycle helmets to young cyclists and YakTrax or other traction devices for elders. Sitka Tribe of Alaska also sponsored a "Be Safe, Be Seen," campaign this past fall, which got reflectives to walkers and cyclists so they can be seen by motorists in the dark.
• Andrea Thomas for her work as owner of Yoga Union, as the tobacco prevention program grant manager at SEARHC, several years working in substance abuse treatment and prevention, and for being a role model for physical fitness as a runner, cyclist, kayaker and yogini.
• Tai Chi Chih instructors Nancy Jo Bleier, Martina Kurzer and Kathryn Snelling for leading free Tai Chi Chih classes in Sitka for several years as a form of meditation and movement, for their work with the senior movement program and for their work with Braveheart Volunteers.
• Candace Schaack and Helen West for their work making their respective high schools healthier places. Candace is student body vice president at Mt. Edgecumbe High School and she helped with healthy vending machines and with a variety of community projects, including serving as host this month for the Alaska Association of Student Governments meeting in Sitka. Helen is with the Sitka High School student government, and her work helped bring SHS and MEHS closer together and she also did work to reduce racism and bullying in the schools.
• St. Peter's-By-The-Sea Episcopal Church for its work hosting 12-step recovery programs, donating land for the St. Peter's Fellowship Farm community garden, hosting the start of the Alpine Adventure Run, organizing the annual Blessing of the Fleet and a 2008 Blessing of the Bikes.
The Steve Reifenstuhl Award
• Bill Foster for being an extraordinarily active community wellness role model. Bill is one of the most active men in Sitka, even though he is 70 years old. Fifty years ago he and a friend rode their bikes 2,900 miles from Missouri to Cuba and back. Earlier this year, Bill did a five-lake skate in Sitka where he ice skated around five different lakes in one day. He competed as a solo kayaker in the 2007 and 2008 Sitka Sound Ocean Adventure Races, where he finished ahead of other kayakers less than half his age. He is an active runner, cyclist and kayaker, and he is an excellent example of how people can be active throughout their entire lifespans.