Westside Awards honorees expressed gratitude at annual chamber breakfast
The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce returned to form for 2022 with the annual Westside Awards breakfast on May 10, held at South Seattle College's Brockey Center.
This year the Chamber honored Kieth Hughes of West Seattle Electric as Westsider of the year for his many efforts on behalf of those in need. Hughes spoke about his work at the American Legion Hall noting that this was the third year they've had a cold weather shelter. That shelter provided coffee, some food, and a warm place for those seeking help, with up to 24 beds being open. They also provided clean dry socks, hats, gloves, sweaters and coats all with an entirely volunteer team. Hughes said, "I had to learn a lot of things. First I had to learn that I couldn't do it by myself. i needed help and you can't get help unless you ask....and i learned when you ask you get help in the West Seattle community." He noted that he was overwhelmed with the response with many deliveries per day with things people needed.
The shelter has been open any time the temperature overnight drops below 40 degrees, even though the city guidelines said it should be 32 degrees, "so i made my own guidelines," Hughes said.
He said that it's his desire to have the shelter open year round but for that to happen it will take more help. "So if you have a desire to see people not out on the streets at night... my phone number is pretty prominently displayed. You could give me a call and you could help."
Neighborhood House was named Westside Non-Profit of the year and Greg Kusumi spoke on behalf of the organization. He said that the organization was founded in 1906 by the National Council of Jewish Women as a settlement organization for refugees and immigrants coming to the area. "And we're very proud to say that 116 years later we are continuing that work here today."
They offer a wide range of community services from pre-natal care to senior services and said, "We're still there for that. We were very happy to say that over the course of the pandemic we have served, we have given away over 14,000 vaccines... and we've given over 90,000 diapers to the West Seattle Community.
We're continuing our sewing class, which is a highly sought after skills development for our parents and the community is actually one of the oldest programs that Neighborhood Houses provided since the early 1900s. So we're very excited to be able to bring that back."
The Highland Park Corner store owners Kevin and Meaghan Haas were honored as the Westside Emerging Business of the year. The store on Highland Park Way SW evolved quickly into a neighborhood gathering place and source of local goods.
Meaghan Haas expressed her thanks for the award and the strong community support the store has gotten and that "We've been honored to meet so many of our neighbors and I'm floored by the creativity that exists here in West Seattle. We're going to continue to find ways to showcase and honor and recognize that talent, whether it's products on our shelves, the live meetings in our parking lot or the artwork on our walls. We really want the store to be a reflection of our neighborhood."
Circa Grill and Alehouse was named Westside Business of the year and owners Gretchen and Bill Evans were noteworthy not just for the gratitude to staff but to each other.
Bill said to his wife and co-owner Gretchen, "Thank you for being my wife and my teammate and everything. I do thank you very much, I appreciate you."
He went on to say, "Reflecting on this honor, there were a couple of sayings that came to mind. One of them came from the folks who educated me. I went to all boys Jesuit school down in New Orleans, and one thing they would hammer to us. Was the motto. Men for others. And if you're in a position to help other people,you do it. We do it. We're really proud of the work we do with that, whether its fundraisers for folks like Mary's Place, or New Beginnings or schools. Our boys go to STEM on Delridge and we love doing stuff for auctions or for West Seattle High School helping raise money for a prom." He continued, "
Why do we get up at 5 AM to to go in and make coffee cake and biscuits after we were already there like 18 hours a day before? You know why? Why do we do that stuff? Why do we focus so much on what we do? It's to make people happy.
Whether that's staff feeling proud about what they're doing at work or the customers enjoying a great meal and camaraderie. Or even you know making our three boys proud of what we do. You know it's just doing all that all that hard work, this is a great example. We feel that love, like getting this award so it really is all true."
Gretchen spoke too and said, "We'd already done 2020 and it was like. Are we going to make it through a whole another year? And I have to say. Hey, we bill and I never for one second doubted that we wouldn't just survive but that we would thrive.
And if we break it down, it was. Three reasons why we knew we would. We would make it first of all the West Seattle community, particularly Admiral. The amount, the sheer amount of takeout. From day one of the pandemic all the way through till literally last night was stunning. It was everyone wanted us to survive so bad and everyone wanted the food that we loved making for them to not have to cook and clean up their homes. So much every holiday event everything we put out on social media got purchased and more and more and more motivated us to make fancier specials and produce more food. It was an absolutely stunning awakening that a community can come together so much for just our little restaurant that's been over there for 24 years. It was an awesome experience. I might sound kind of strange, but 2020- 21 was an amazing experience in our position as a restaurant."