The City of Tacoma recently announced the recipients of the 2022 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Awards. The which recognizes excellence in community service activities carried out by an individual, organization or group, and seeks to encourage similar efforts by others who may want to serve in the community are presented each year during the City of Tacoma’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration.
This year, the City of Tacoma’s Events and Recognitions Committee will honor Gail Neal with the Lifetime Service Award, Latasha Ware with the Emerging Leader Award, and Mayor Woodards will present Special Recognitions to Candace Wesley, and posthumously to Tracie L. Davis during the 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration on Monday, January 17, 2022. The program will be presented in a virtual format again this year.
The Lifetime Service Award, awarded to Neal, honors an individual or a group that has been dedicated to offering services to a given community or population.
“This year’s recipient embodied the heart of this award through their dedicated service to our beloved community. Congratulations to Gail Neal, who has been serving our most vulnerable for 30 plus years at the Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center,” said the selection panel of Neal. “The center has 22 programs in support of Tacoma families and relies almost exclusively on contracts and funding from the State and federal government, using a fee-for-service model. Gail and her team have provided childcare, educational classes, and resources while building a legacy of support and love for the families they serve.”
The Emerging Leader award, awarded to Ware, focuses on individuals who are 29 years of age or younger.
“Congratulations to Latasha Ware, who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that community support programs in our city are rooted in access, equity, and inclusion,” said the selection panel. “She has worked with local organizations like Tacoma Community House (TCH), assisting community members further their academics and secure paid internships. One of her projects includes the creation of a visual and audio storytelling project to uplift the narratives of immigrants and refugees living in Tacoma.”
Mayor Woodards spoke very highly of her special recognition recipients Candace Wesley and Tracie L. Davis.
“Mr. Rogers famously encouraged us to ‘look for the helpers’ when we need reassurance during scary or trying times, and there are few ‘helpers’ whose example of service to the community are more inspiring than Candace Wesley,” said Woodards. “She is a foundational rock under the city of Tacoma, always unselfishly giving of her time and many talents to uplift and support the community. Quite often, she can be found lending a hand before anyone has even had the opportunity to request her help. Whether she is showing up in solidarity, with food, to organize peace marches in times of community tragedy, or rallying people together to express and experience joy during community celebrations, Candace Wesley has made countless vital contributions that strengthen this city and all who call it home.”
“While it was heartbreaking to lose Tracie Davis earlier this year after her long fight against cancer, she has left an enduring legacy that will always be a part of Tacoma. She was a pillar and a light to all who knew her, and she generously used her many gifts – as a gospel comedian, choir director, and emcee, to name just a few – to spread joy to others,” said Woodards. “Her many years as a choir director at our City’s Martin Luther King Celebration is just one example of her selfless service. She hosted annual gospel concerts to raise funds for those in need and supported her church community with songs as well. Even in sickness, Tracie was a woman of grace. She courageously turned a diagnosis into a mission to be an advocate to encourage women of color to get the preventative services and medical care they needed to improve health outcomes in our community. She was an inspiring example for us all.”
The City will present a virtual celebration program that will be released on multiple platforms. This year’s event theme is “Hope & Healing.” The program will highlight the present and the future of Dr. King’s impacts on our community and will feature local performers and speakers who work and volunteer to ensure our community represents equity, hope, and healing.
TV Tacoma will premiere the program on Monday, January 17 at 8:00 p.m. The program can be viewed online and streamed live on Facebook at facebook.com/cityoftacoma. It will also be played on TV Tacoma which is carried on both the Click! (via Rainier Connect) and Comcast Cable systems. The event will continue to be televised throughout January.