The Whatcom Parks and Recreation Foundation hosted their 9th Annual Holiday Mixer and Award Celebration event on December 1st, 2016. The guest of honor for the evening was Lisa Friend, past board member with the WPRF and the 2016 recipient of the William Dittrich Award for volunteer service in the parks and recreation field.
The Foundation presented Ms. Friend with the award in honor of the many years of volunteer service and advocacy that she has contributed to parks, trails, and environmental causes around Whatcom County. Lisa is a former board member of the Whatcom Parks and Recreation Foundation, and currently serves as President of the Friends of Tennant Lake and Hovander Park.
Ms Friend, also a former recipient of the RE Sources “Environmental Heroes” award, is a lifelong conservationist who specializes in recycling and composting. When she’s not volunteering to staff a “Zero Waste” set-up at community events, she’s likely in her garden or walking a local trail. In addition to walking the renowned “Camino de Santiago” in Spain, Ms Friend has covered most of the 1,000 miles walked and documented by John Muir after the Civil War. “I wanted to see what had changed and what had remained the same in the Deep South since Muir’s trek,” our award-winner says: “Everything had been built on, of course, except the woods near Mammoth Cave and the old road into North Carolina from Tennessee. Many of the plants Muir saw were still there, however, and the people remain generous at heart.”
Sporting a “Nooksack Loop Trail” patch nearly everywhere she goes, Ms. Friend has walked around Whatcom County, too: “I walked from Bellingham to Birch Bay when I was training for my trip to the south,” she says. “The walk along the Nooksack from Marietta to Hovander is a lovely day-hike, as is the Interurban Trail from Fairhaven to Larrabee.” She looks forward to completion of the Nooksack Loop and is a passionate advocate for park and Greenways funding.
Hosted by the volunteer board members of the Foundation , the Holiday Mixer and Award Celebration is now in its 9th year and has become a tradition for park department staff, donors, supporters, and friends of the Foundation. In addition to the presentation of the Dittrich award, guests enjoyed light appetizers, beverages, an exciting raffle, and lots of socializing while celebrating the successes of the Foundation with fellow parks enthusiasts and advocates.
2016 was a big year for The Whatcom Parks and Recreation Foundation. The WPRF embarked on a new endeavor this year, broadening the scope of its programming by hosting the first annual Hovander Homestead Bluegrass Festival over Labor Day Weekend, September 2-5, 2016. Approximately 1,500 people attended the first year of the festival from Whatcom County, the Pacific Northwest region and as far away as Apache Junction, Arizona. Volunteers contributed over 600 hours of service over the weekend.The Festival was a fundraiser for the Foundation with a portion of the proceeds going directly toward the Whatcom County Parks and Recreation Department’s plans to improve the Animal Contact Area at Hovander Homestead Park. The balance of the proceeds will support the Foundation’s general operations and provide seed money for the Second Annual Hovander Homestead Bluegrass Festival, to be held September 1-4, 2017.