The need for such an award

  • At the national level we have awards for service to the nation such as the Congressional Medal of Honor.
  • The US Military has a Bronze Star, Silver Star, etc. for exceptional service beyond the call of duty.
  • Veterans of our armed forces are greeted with the phrase “Thank you for your service.”
  • We here with maintain that service to our local community also warrants an award for exceptional behavior.  We have many persons in our community
  • who also should be greeted with “Thank you for your service.”
  • Let us promote the values of compassion, love of neighbor, collective problem solving and other values that forms the glue that holds our community
  • together.  Let us recognize those citizens who exemplify these values and help make Bellingham the wonderful community it is.

The nature of the award
The award shall consist of a document expressing appreciation signed by the President of the Bellingham City Council and the Mayor of Bellingham.
The award shall be accompanied by a check to the winner for one thousand dollars.  The money is already committed by the Whatcom Community Foundation not only for the award itself but an equal amount to cover costs for managing the award, the reception, the program, etc.
The award shall be presented in a public ceremony that honors the selected citizen for showing those virtues and activities that help make Bellingham a wonderful example of what is right with America.

The Jury that selects the awardee
The jury that selects the awardee must be independent of political influence and any other influence.  It must be free of nepotism and favoritism.  It cannot be seen as “an old boy’s” network nor as a group of cronies of one sort or another.  The answer is to ask a representative of five distinctive sectors of our society to nominate a person to serve as a juror for one year.  The sectors to be called on to select a juror are:

 A civic club.

  • A local church.
  • An organization rendering service to hurting populations.
  • An educational institution.
  • The Bellingham City Council.
  •  Each year the program administrator will select a different civic club, church, etc. and ask them to name a person to sit on the jury. The person they name need not be a member of their organization.  They serve as juror for one year only.

Who will administer the award?:

An organization is needed that will take on the responsibility of handling the administrative details of the award, such as sending out the call for nominations, collecting the nomination forms, calling a meeting of the jury, distributing press releases announcing the winner, planning the reception and awards ceremony, ordering the award plaques, etc.

Funding the award:

Arrangements have been made for the Whatcom Community Foundation to make an annual award of two thousand dollars to the organization administering the award, one thousand for the awardee and one thousand dollars for costs of administration of the award. This amount of money is guaranteed for 20 years, should the award continue that long.  The donor of the funds wishes to remain anonymous.

 Nomination of individuals for the award:

  1. Anyone can nominate a person for the award.
  2. A person can nominate themselves.
  3. The nomination form will be available on line and must be filled out on line and submitted by the due date.
  4. If the award is to be given in July (near Independence Day) the call for nominations should go out before the middle of February.

Eligibility for the award:

  • Resident in Bellingham for 5 years or more. Service to the community must span five years or more, i.e., not be a “flash in the pan.”  It must show a long term commitment of service.
  • Must have a record of having voted in local elections during that time.

Evaluating the nominations:

Once the deadline date has been met for nominations the administrator will call a meeting of the jury to discuss procedure for evaluation of the nominees.

The following criteria shall be used in evaluating the nominees:

  1. What are the long-term impacts of the activities of the nominee?
  2. Has their activity resulted in structural change in the community or is it best described as ‘system maintenance?’
  3. Is this a new area of concern for the community or is it an on-going one?
  4. Has the nominee helped give voice to a population that needs assistance or is it an activity that helps existing service delivery systems do a better job?
  5. Will the activities/programs of the nominee continue after the nominee leaves the field of action or will their existence depend on the continuing presence of the nominee?
  6. The activities /events or service listed on the application cannot be part of the nominee’s job description or duties.
  7. The individual cannot receive any monetary or personal benefits from their involvement. 

Each juror will select from the list of nominees five persons to be considered Outstanding Citizen of the Year. The group will then meet to discuss which shall be named Outstanding Citizen.  Two other persons will be selected as runners up (a better name is called for) who will be honored at the awards ceremony but not given a cash award.  These two individuals shall represent different areas of activity.

The Bellingham City Council, the Office of the Mayor, City of Bellingham and the Whatcom Community Foundation shall be listed as “Sponsors” of the Outstanding Citizen of the Year Awards program.

 The award ceremony.

  1. The award ceremony should be held in a place that adds to the credibility of the award. Suggested venues are the old city hall rotunda room, the dome room at the ferry terminal, Mt. Baker Theater, Big Rock Garden Park on Mothers’ Day, etc.
  2. Welcome: President of the Bellingham City Council
  3. An outside speaker of note should be brought in to give the keynote address. The governor?  US Senator? “Who is a good citizen?”  etc
  4. Read the words of Teddy Roosevelt on service to community.
  5. Read the words of Sue C. Boynton “Three things abide.”
  6. COB Mayor presents the award to the recipient with a short commentary (3 minutes maximum).
  7. Board member of the Whatcom Community Foundation or the Whatcom County Opportunity Council will present the “also ran” awards.
  8. President of the Bellingham City Council: “Good night all.  Thank you for joining us this evening in a celebration of those values that have helped make Bellingham a wonderful example of what is right with America.”