Unsung volunteers are Citizens of the Year

By Sara Bruestle | Aug 06, 2014
Courtesy of: Elizabeth Erickson John Collier and the late Jim Brice were honored as Citizens of the Year on July 29 at Rosehill Community Center. Jim Brice’s widow, Ann, received the award on his behalf. With them is Mayor Jennifer Gregerson.

John Collier and the late Jim Brice have been named Mukilteo’s Citizens of the Year.

The Kiwanis-sponsored award is given to a Mukilteo citizen to recognize the outstanding contributions he or she has made to the city. Couples may also be recognized.

Collier and Brice were honored at the Mukilteo Kiwanis Club meeting on July 29. Jim Brice’s widow, Ann, received the award on his behalf.

“It’s a real honor to share it with Jim Brice, because I admired him so much for so many years,” Collier said. “It’s very gratifying. I’m just delighted; just going around happy.”

Neither John nor Ann knew they’d be getting the award.

“I was really shocked,” Ann Brice said. “I knew he (Jim) had been nominated, but I had no idea that it was going to happen this year. I was pleasantly surprised. It’s really an honor.”

Kiwanis received one letter each nominating Collier and Brice. The letters noted the countless hours they had worked as leaders and volunteers for a variety of community services in Mukilteo, year after year.

Seven judges – all former Citizens of the Year – voted unanimously to give the award to both Collier and Brice, said Tim Taylor, a judge.

“Votes were split between the two, and then when we discussed having them both, it was unanimous,” he said. “They did a lot of thankless jobs, and they did it for years without looking for any recognition.”

Of Collier’s many contributions to Mukilteo, noted in his letter were these:

He joined the Mukilteo Historical Society in 1999 and has worked to record and share the history of Mukilteo ever since. He is society president and has also served as vice president and treasurer.

“Most notable is his dedication to keeping the history of Mukilteo as a current and clear memory of what has made our community what it is today,” the letter said.

He has helped make historical brochures, interpretive signs and exhibits. He and his wife, Ann, also write about Mukilteo’s history in the society’s newsletter, The Beacon’s Guide to Mukilteo, and the city’s quarterly magazine.

“Ann will write the essence of it and I will render it more exciting, outlandish and flamboyant, and so we come up with something that is both accurate and interesting to read,” he said of their writings.

Collier also started a committee that placed 15 scaled-down, artist-decorated replicas of the Mukilteo lighthouse in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the lighthouse in 2006.

Several of the Celebrating 100 Years of Light lighthouses were auctioned off to benefit the Mukilteo Family YMCA and the Mukilteo Boys & Girls Club.

“It was strictly a spirit raising and civic opportunity,” Collier said. “I think it had a great effect. It was very positive and purely enjoyable.”

Collier also joined the Mukilteo Food Bank in 1999, and has served in every role except president. Right now, he serves as a representative of the food bank to other organizations.

He also has been a member of the Mission Team at Mukilteo Presbyterian Church since 1999. As part of the team, he assists the homeless and low-income families.

Collier said he volunteers because it is enjoyable and because of his faith.

“This is what we believe we are on this Earth to do: to help others and work with others to make the world a better place,” he said. “If you don’t really believe that what you are doing has a higher purpose to it, then it becomes insignificant to you.”

Of Brice’s many contributions to Mukilteo, noted in his letter were these:

Brice served on the city’s Planning and Parks commissions, and as chair many times. He was appointed to the Parks Commission in 1979 and then moved to the Planning Commission in 1994. He served on that commission until his death last year.

“Jim is not a person who campaigns for publicity or recognition,” the letter said. “He is a gentleman with a warm and caring personality.”

He also served on the Mukilteo Festival Committee for three years, before the festival was turned over to the city.

Brice volunteered at the Northshore Christian Church for 14 years, specializing in ushering and greeting churchgoers each Sunday. He also served on the Missions Committee and delivered pastoral lunches.

“He just loved greeting people at the door,” Ann Brice said. “That was his thing. They got a stool for him when he couldn’t stand.”

In 2005, Brice joined the Mukilteo Seniors Association. He served as treasurer and drove the seniors’ bus. He also drove the Mukilteo Boys & Girls Club Luau and Mukilteo Farmers Market shuttles.

“When the seniors got the bus, he started driving the bus and helping out that way,” Ann Brice said. “He’d been a truck driver, so driving a small bus like that, he was comfortable with that.”

Ann Brice said her husband volunteered because he needed to be needed.

“He had free time, once he retired especially, and wanted to give back to the community,” she said.

As Citizens of the Year, Collier and Brice received their own plaques, will get their names engraved on a plaque that hangs in the Rosehill Community Center, and John and Ann, on behalf of her late husband, will be in the Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival parade on Saturday, Sept. 6.

They also will be honored in a ceremony with the Pioneer of the Year at the lighthouse at 3 p.m. that Saturday.

Collier and Brice succeed Kathy Wisbeck, who was the 2013 Citizen of the Year.

To nominate the 2015 Citizen of the Year, look in the Mukilteo Beacon for the form available in June.

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