Doug Barker — Community service on the menu next Saturday

In the couple of decades I’ve been attending Daily World Citizen of the Year Awards Banquets, I’ve come away each time with the same feeling — struck by the number of people in my community who structure their lives around the selfless things they do for others.

It’s a great feeling to walk out of the banquet knowing that the people filing out with you are feeling the same way, optimistic and imbued with the knowledge that seemingly ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things.

You can have that feeling a week from tonight. The Daily World’s Citizen of the Year, Police Officer of the Year and Firefighter of the Year will be honored at an awards banquet being hosted by the Aberdeen Elks Lodge. You’re invited. The food and company are great, and the experience of pride in your community is something you can’t buy.

The honorees were announced in December. Since it’s been a few months, I’m going to remind you. Mickey Thurman is The Daily World Citizen of the Year. Keith Fouts is the Police Officer of the Year and Keldy Matthews is the Firefighter of the Year.

Mickey Thurman is everything you want in a volunteer, she’s smart, positive, enthusiastic and that thing that is gold to any successful volunteer endeavor — dependable. She does what she says she’ll do, and likely will follow up to gently remind you of what you said you’d do.

Her community involvement goes back a ways, but for the past several years, her focus has been on historic preservation and development of downtown Hoquiam. She has been involved in the 7th St. Theatre’s renovation since the beginning, spreading her time between the theater, Hoquiam’s Historic Preservation Commission and the Hoquiam Business Association. When the University of Washington wanted to restore a batch of old newsreels that fell into its lap, she stepped forward and wrangled the efforts of many to make sure it got done. The result was a prize-winning film that shows us moving pictures of life here in the 1920s and ’30s.

Keith Fouts, recently retired as a sergeant in the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office, is what Sheriff Rick Scott called a “cop’s cop.” He did it all in a 25-year career, serving on the county’s dive team, as a K-9 handler, the county’s chief criminal deputy and a supervisor of the multi-agency Drug Task Force.

Keldy Matthews is the chief of the Wishkah Fire District crew. It’s an all-volunteer department and Matthews puts in long hours while working full time. He’s a hands-on chief who has earned respect as a leader and a guy who rolls up his sleeves and does the work.

The three of them are cut from the same bolt of cloth. And that means all three would deflect the attention and tell you there are others who deserve it just as much or more.

I’m always impressed by the generosity of the honorees. There’s no more valuable commodity than time. To give it in service is the ultimate in generosity.

It’s going to be a great dinner next Saturday. It’s overdue. We named the honorees at the end of 2013, but it looked like the dinner we have sponsored for years was going to be a casualty of budget cuts at the newspaper. Hoquiam Mayor Jack Durney stepped in and helped us facilitate a partnership with the Aberdeen and Hoquiam Elks lodges. Speaking of service and generosity, the mayor and the Elks have gone above and beyond.

If you could use a reminder that ordinary people can make a difference in their community, join us for dinner. Tickets are on sale at The Daily World and the Aberdeen Elks through noon on Friday. At $25 a plate, for salmon, chicken or lasagna, you’ll get your money’s worth. Throw in a side of inspiration, and it will be a meal you’ll remember for a long time.

Doug Barker is The Daily World editor. He can be reached at 537-3023 or by e-mail at


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