Friday, February 24, 2006

Citizens of the Year - my parents

One of the joys of being a parent is having moments when you are proud of your kids. Most of the time we don’t have as much visibility in the other generational direction – i.e., knowing enough about what your parents are doing to be proud of them (beyond how they raised you). I’m very fortunate to have parents that are as good as it gets from how they raised us to how they contribute to their community. I could go on and on about that but the one area I will focus on is their role as community leaders/volunteers. Their local community (Edmonds, Washington just north of Seattle) recognized them as their Citizens of the Year. Their example has influenced many people including myself to spend significant time working with non-profits which has been very fulfilling. It turns out that a lot of the skills, experience and contacts that are useful for business are very beneficial to non-profits. Some of the organizations that I’ve helped out with include Social Venture Partners (winner of Fast Company’s Social Innovators Award), United Way of King County (the most innovative, successful and awarded United Way in the country) and Climate Solutions (an economic development organization focused on addressing climate change through the development of clean/smart energy businesses). The old cliché “you get more out than you put in” has certainly applied for me. If you haven’t done so, I’d find the non-profits in your area of passion and find out how you can help them. You won’t regret it.

Here’s the article on my parents from the Edmonds Beacon


The Beacon

Vern Chase. Barbara Chase. Or if you will, Vern and Barbara Chase.

Individually or collectively, Vern and Barbara Chase are who you go to if you want something done.

And for their unstinting efforts to make Edmonds a better place, Vern and Barbara have been named 2006 Citizen(s) Of The Year.

The 13th annual contest, sponsored by the Sno-King Kiwanis Club of Edmonds and Edmonds Senior Kiwanis in conjunction with the Edmonds Beacon, culminated with the introduction of the winners at Thursday’s chamber of commerce meeting.

“Surprised? I’ll say we’re surprised,” says Barbara Chase, 70. “There are a lot of really wonderful people in Edmonds who are very responsive to any project that benefits our community.”

Vern Chase, 72, a mainstay of the Rotary Club of Edmonds, is particularly proud of his organization’s achievements on behalf of the YWCA Pathways For Women. Trinity House at the Pathways shelter came about through a working partnership between Edmonds Rotary and travel icon Rick Steves.

“We’re just a small Rotary but we manage big deeds,” Vern says.

So do he and Barbara. The selection committee, composed of members of the sponsoring Kiwanis clubs, faced a formidable task when 34 nominations rolled in.

In the end it came down to Vern Chase, a retired port marketing executive, and Barbara Chase, retired now after 19 years in the demanding role of special education teacher.

Did somebody say retired? A mere figure of speech.

Barbara is deeply involved in local clubs and projects: Floretum Garden Club (she became a Master Gardener in 2003 and helps conduct clinics at the Edmonds Summer Market each summer); Edmonds Library board and Cascade Community Singers; Edmonds In Bloom (she recruits judges for the annual contest from the Master Gardeners), the Holy Rosary Church speech program (she’s a judge) … and counting.

“I think it’s important for groups to work together on different projects,” she says.

Vern, meanwhile, serves on the board and executive committee of the YMCA, and supports the YWCA through his work for Pathways For Women. He is past president of Edmonds Rotary, a member of the chamber of commerce’s Economic Development Committee … and counting.

Vern and Barbara also share some missions. They played important roles with the Washington Tea Party, an ad hoc group that helped rebuff a proposed King County sewage treatment plant in Edmonds.

“Aside from sheer time and effort,” says their nominator for Citizen Of The Year, “Vern and Barbara have marvelous leadership skills.”

And here’s the kicker:

The Chases have lived in Edmonds a mere six years. As Portland residents, they reconnoitered the Puget Sound area on various trips. Then they moved here and, in Barbara’s words, “jumped right in.”

“It’s Vern’s fault,” she says of their total immersion in local causes. “He’s extremely organized. It helps us get a lot done.”

Not that they wouldn’t have things to keep them busy domestically – three kids and six grandkids make for a full plate under any circumstances.

No matter. They already have their next project in mind: more and better walking paths in Edmonds.

Think it’s a longshot?

Then you don’t know Vern and Barbara Chase …

No comments: