Community First Awards presented at Community Center Breakfast

The Greater Maple valley Community Center hosted 145 guests at its annual Benefit Breakfast on March 21st, where Tahoma High School teacher Gretchen Wulfing and Johnsons Home & Garden were recognized for their outstanding contributions to our community.

The Breakfast celebrated the many program partnerships fostered by the Community center, which allow the organization to provide such a wide array of human services to youth, teens, seniors and families. The event featured long time Board members Jim Flynn and Syd Dawson, recapping the Center’s history and current programming.  Center Director, Mark Pursley, shared that while their programs are effective, they are limited by a lack of space in their facility. The Community Center building was constructed in 1978 when their service area boasted a population of approximately 8,000 people. The population in their service area has grown to some 50,000 residents in the ensuing 40 years, leaving the facility vastly undersized for the needs.

As they look to expand their building, the Center’s Board of Directors is actively soliciting public input to identify the human service and cultural priorities of the community. Board and staff are available to meet with both groups and individuals to facilitate this process. Contact Mark Pursley at (425) 432-1272 or markp@maplevalleycc.orgto schedule a time for this conversation.

The highlight of the event was the presentation of the Community First Awards. These awards are to recognize outstanding contributions to our community and are annually presented to an individual and an organization. This year’s recipients truly embody the spirit of giving.

Johnsons Home and Garden is celebrating its 50thyear in this community. While 50 years is impressive, their real story is the impact they have made on this community. Not only have theyhave been economic drivers by creating hundreds of good paying jobs, they have taken leadership roles in the Maple Valley – Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce, with both Tina & Stan Johnson serving as President of that organization. Johnsons continues to make a difference through their support of more than 100 programs in the Maple Valley area, including the Food Bank, The Fishing Derby, The Farmers Market, Hometown Holidays, Maple Valley Pony Baseball, Maple Valley’s Music in the Park series, Vine Maple Place, the Wild & Wacky Golf Tournament, Maple Valley Soccer Association, as well as the Community Center. Brad Johnson accepted the award on behalf of Johnsons Home & Garden.

Gretchen Wulfing has made a major impact on both the national and local levels. She wrote the community, domestic service policy for president George HW Bush. In addition, she rode in ambulances in New York at 2:00 AM helping get kids off the street, and met with chief executives to raise funds for the 1000 points of Light foundation, which she helped lead for President Bush. Locally she has had 11 kids, both biological and foster attend Tahoma schools.  Grechen is probably best known for her influence she has had on hundreds of young people with the high school’s constitutional mock debate team that competes in We the People, the Citizen and the Constitution program. Under her guidance, Tahoma’s We the People have won 11 of the past 12 state titles. She was previously recognized by Washington State Legislature as the Civics Educator of the Year in 2011.

Emceed by Board Chair Lucy Stuefloten, the Breakfast raised over $30,000 to support human service programming at the Community Center thanks to the appeal of Grifan Cayce. The event was catered by Jack Emmons and his crew from Mitzels.