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2022 Real Community Heroes Awards & Celebration

Our 2022 Real Community Heroes Awards & Celebration event was on May 6th, at Heritage Distilling Co. in Tumwater. During the receptoin portion of the event, guests enjoyed one of our three signature cocktails, a "Welcome Home" Mule, "No Place Like Home" Old Fashioned, or a "Home Sweet Home" Mocktail, with hors d'oeuvres from Occasions Catering and dessert from Bittersweet Chocolates.

Homes First CEO Trudy Soucoup started the program with a land acknowledgement to the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, the Squaxin Island Tribe and Nisqually Indian Tribe. Then a welcome to all of this year's awardees, previous award winners in attendance, board members, staff, local elected officials (present and past) and all the community members who have supported Homes First and joined us for our celebration. She announced new projects coming up at our Henderson, and Genesis homes, ADUs, FIVE new houses, and update on our solar energy project. She then welcomed Sandy DiBernardo, Olympia Federal Savings to the mic to talk about their long time partnership with Homes First, and our shared mission of providing safe, healthy and affordable homes in our community.

Following Trudy & Sandy, Homes First Resource Development Committee Chair Evette Temple, spoke to why she joined the board in 2020, her amazing committee members who helped plan this year's celebration event, and reminded everyone to join us September 14th, for our annual Heroes for Housing Breakfast.

This year we were honored to celebrate the following amazing women as our 2022 Real Community Heroes. This was the first time that all three awardees were women! Please take the time to read more about each of our Real Community Heroes below, as presented by our 2021 Real Community Heroes who nominated them.

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Whitney Bowerman, Community Volunteer

I selected Whitney to receive this award in recognition for all she does to promote a more affordable and healthy community through her work and her volunteer activities.  

A mother of two,  Whitney balances her changing needs while continuing her role as an active community volunteer.  Like most tireless volunteers, Whitney Bowerman is humble in her pursuits. Yet her friends and acquaintances describe her as a generous philanthropist, advocate, civic leader, volunteer extraordinaire and sometimes even “a crazy cat lady.” Regardless of how one labels it, Whitney’s impact in the community is easy to see, and speaks for itself.

 

Whitney started volunteering in middle school. She explains that her school had a community service component. As part of her coursework, she started volunteering at the University District Food Bank. Whitney tells us that she was immediately hooked into volunteering for a number of reasons.  “One was that I love people and their stories – I’m fascinated by them and I had an opportunity to meet a whole range of people there.”

But the second reason is a little more complicated, and Whitney isn’t shy in sharing that she had a tumultuous upbringing. “When I would go volunteer, I felt like I had purpose, I felt like I mattered, I felt appreciated and I enjoyed it. Those were things I was not getting at home and so I continued to volunteer.”

And though her circumstances have changed, she hasn’t stopped showing up for others. Into adulthood, Whitney persists in making an impact in our community and she continuously inspires others to take action as well.

Food security and housing are serious issues that Whitney works hard year-round to alleviate, but since she can’t magically solve all of the problems of our community, she and her husband, Luke Bowerman have found another way to spark joy.

Each December, they transform their property at 1515 10th Avenue into Oly Lightstravaganza. It’s a walk-through light display that has grown to 90,000 lights this year. It began in 2005 at the Bowermans’ former residence and has been at the current location since 2010. After creating a Facebook page in 2012, the display has really shined, lighting up our community in more ways than one. The display opens the same weekend every year, the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

In true Bowerman fashion, there is a service component to the display, as cash and non-perishable food is collected on-site and donated to the Thurston County Food Bank at the end of the season. Since Whitney began tracking the donations in 2012, over 7,000 pounds of food have been donated, along with $11,000 dollars in cash.

Whitney has also been seen around town as the campaign coordinator for Interfaith Works’ Homeless Services Program, the homeless census manager for the City of Olympia and a Group Fitness Instructor for the South Sound YMCA.

-John Terranova, 2021 Real Community Hero

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Shy-Anne Haney, 1st Security Bank

It is my honor to recognize Shy-Anne Haney as  a 2022 Real Community Hero. Please join me up here Shy-Anne.

For those of you who don’t already know, Shy-Anne is an avid golfer and lover of vintage cars.  She is a sales manager and loan officer for 1st Security Bank in Lacey, where she is known for going the extra mile for her clients.

Along with her work helping people buy homes, Shy-Anne steps up in many ways in our community including to provide support to Homes First. She is a member of the Thurston Chamber, Lacey Chamber, Thurston County Realtors Association, Women’s Council of Realtors, 100 Women who Care, and Women United

Shy-Anne is a great supporter of women owned businesses and of anything that provides opportunities for women to make their lives better.

Since 2019, Shy-Anne has served on the Board of Directors of Dry Tikes and Wet Wipes, our local diaper bank which helps low income families supplement their diaper and wipe needs.  

Lance, the Executive Director of Dry Tikes and Wet Wipes tells us that “Shy-Anne is always someone we can count on.  When we were outside in different parking lots handing out diapers in the cold, rain, wind, hot sun, or whatever the weather had to throw at us, she would always show up with a smile and be ready for work.  She has been a wonderful cheerleader for our organization and willing to help at every turn.  We are so lucky to have Shy-Anne on our board here at Dry Tikes & Wet Wipes.”

-Tonya Hennen, 2021 Real Community Hero (presented by Michelle Mewhinney-Angel

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Ti'eri Lino, Interfaith Works

I have the pleasure of recognizing my friend and community colleague Ti'eri Lino, as a 2022 Real Community Hero.

Ti'eri is a Homeless Services Program Coordinator at Interfaith Works.  For those of you not familiar with Interfaith Works , as of December 17, 2021, they are operating the 58 bed, 24/7 supportive shelter program located on Pattison Road known as Unity Commons.  All genders are welcome, couples stay together whenever possible, service animals and companion pets okay, sobriety is not required, no ID is required for bed placement.  Guests must be over 18. They prioritize single adults, couples without dependent children and their pets who are living with serious, persistent challenges related to physical, mental and substance use related health issues.

 

Ti'eri has four years of experience working in homeless services with three years of managerial and supervisory experience. She has experience presenting and training staff and outside agencies on a variety of topics including de-escalation techniques, organizational systems and policies, naloxone administration, racial equity, and appropriate interactions with outside agencies. 

Her grassroots experience working in harm reduction, trauma informed care, and low barrier homeless services includes specialized experience in data system management, policy writing, and management supervision. Ti'eri is a contributor to the Thurston County VI Racial Equity Team and a 2022 YWCA Womxn of Achievement award winner!

 

Tarryn Bieloh, our friend and colleague from Interfaith Works agrees that, Ti'eri has a great temperament for methodical, long term commitment to the homeless services community in Olympia.  Tarryn told us that as a leader in  the organization, Ti'eri has incredible instinct for actionable next steps that keep in our values and the organizational vision. Ti'eri's administrative abilities keep Interfaith Works afloat and she is able to hold so many strings together. She sees both staff and participants from a holistic lens and it is a pleasure to work under her!

Meg Martin, Executive Director at Interfaith Works wants me to share that Ti'eri someone she highly trusts to be deeply thoughtful, hold many perspectives at the same time, set aside ego and work towards a world in which everyone is seen, heard, and valued. She's a systems thinker, data minded, willing to have the tough conversations, and... after being in an admin role in recent times can still work the floor or outreach front line shifts with the best of them. She builds rapport quickly with our participants, and staff team. She values staying as connected to the front lines as possible, and she shows up with strong support for the people she supervises. She does it with an impeccable taste in fashion, strong makeup skills, beautiful nail sets, and with a genius sense of humor. She's one of my favorite people to laugh with, strategize with, and talk through all the complex layers of our lives. 

Ti'eri this award is so well deserved!! We are so lucky to have you at Interfaith Works and you've made this community a more compassionate and resilient place. Thank you for being in my life, being my work partner, making me a better director, and for being my friend. Congrats, and thank you Homes First for this awesome community event!

 

I’ve personally been working alongside Ti´eri for two and half years now and in that time I´ve been able to witness her incredible work ethic and leadership skills in IFWś Shelter, REST, Outreach and Supportive Housing programs and as a member on the racial equity committee who developed the bulk of the Homelessness Equity Assessment Tool (The HEAT). This tool is now formally being rolled out to replace the VI-SPDAT. 

Ti´eri, Meg Martin and I were able to give the first training on the new tool recently and are incredibly excited to help move the county towards a more fair and inclusive coordinated entry system. There are many more systemic barriers women of color have to face in order to have access to leadership and management roles. Tiéri thrives in her position as IFW´s program coordinator and I´m excited to see where her career takes her.

-Hel Dastvan, 2021 Real Community Hero