Distinction for Dedication — 35th annual Issaquah Community Awards celebrates extraordinary community service
May 27, 2014
By Peter Clark
Robin Callahan and Ava Frisinger were the big winners during the 35th annual Issaquah Community Awards.
The Issaquah Chamber of Commerce held the event at the Hilton Garden Inn in a room full of city leaders and passionate citizens May 22. The yearly program aims to honor dedication to Issaquah and longtime volunteers for their service to the community.
Fourteen awards were given, celebrating multiple facets of how people improve Issaquah.
Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Richard Gabel honored Robin Callahan as the Citizen of the Year, thanking her for her contributions to the community and her dedication to students, including her 15 years with the Issaquah Schools Foundation.
“She is a champion of the schools, a champion for kids and a champion of all things Issaquah,” Gabel said as he hinted at the recipient’s identity. “She is someone we hold up as a model civic leader.”
Callahan, executive director of the Issaquah Schools Foundation, credited the many who work with her for the continued success of the foundation.
“I serve alongside hundreds of volunteers and none of the work I do, I do alone,” she said. “I accept this on behalf of all the people who love Issaquah as much as I do.”
She said she did not expect the honor.
“It was a surprise and it was a lovely surprise,” Callahan said, thanking the people who keep contributing every year. “Ultimately, the thing I love about Issaquah is we weave these nets so tight around them that they can’t get away.”
The city of Issaquah also put another plaque in City Hall, inducting former Mayor Ava Frisinger to the Hall of Fame. Current Mayor Fred Butler, who chose the recipient, credited Frisinger for the 16 years leading the city and thanked her for the longtime dedication and service to the Issaquah community.
“I’m sure that each of you would agree with me that Ava is a dedicated member of our community,” he said. “Ava contributed immensely to shape the vibrant community and excellent quality of life we all enjoy. She has served as a mentor and someone I can turn to for advice because of her experience.”
Apparently, city staff members tried to keep Frisinger from expecting the award. She said staff hinted that Council President Paul Winterstein might win.
“For one day, I was fooled,” Frisinger said. “Then I thought, this is just bogus. I know this scam.”
She said she felt honored to joined the Hall of Fame and receive the recognition from the city.
“It is very sweet and I appreciate it a great deal,” she said. “It is a privilege to live in this community and help implement the community’s vision of values. This city is very tied together in its idea of value.”
Frisinger said she found inspiration in the keynote speaker of the evening, Milenko Matanovic, founder and executive director of the Pomegranate Center. She said it represented what she felt was so important about the awards to honor such community service.
“To do one thing for one cause is not enough anymore,” Matanovic said in his address. “What I found in qualities of leaders who lead these type of efforts is that they are generous in that they can find value in other people’s ideas. Issaquah will be qualitatively improved if you pay attention. Pay attention to the environment, to fish, to children.”