Phamily, smiles, and service

Nhi Pham named 2018 Mukilteo Citizen of the Year
By Brandon Gustafson | Jul 03, 2018
Photo by: Brandon Gustafson Nhi Pham, center, along with her family, Mukilteo Dental Clinic staff, and past Mukilteo Citizens of the Year are all smiles after Pham was named Mukilteo’s Citizen of the Year for 2018.

When Nhi Pham exited the back offices and entered the waiting room at her dental clinic, Mukilteo Dental Center, she was shocked and a little concerned to see her entire staff and many Mukilteo residents filling up the room.

“The last time I was pulled up front by my staff, I was pranked,” Pham said. “They told me the police were arresting one of my employees. I was like, ‘What is going on?’”

But these Mukilteo residents weren’t just any residents.

The handful of people in the waiting room were past Mukilteo Citizens of the Year who were there to tell Pham that she was named Mukilteo’s Citizen of the Year for 2018.

Quickly, the concern and shock turned to disbelief and a large smile.

“To be chosen to represent Mukilteo like this, I can’t even express it,” Pham said. “It just blows me away.”

According to Pam Taylor, last year’s Citizen of the Year, there were 14 nominations for the award, a new record.

2011 recipient Elizabeth Erickson nominated Pham, and lauded her for her continuous volunteer work.

“What shows repeatedly is her consistent dedication to kind, selfless and generous acts

of goodness,” Erickson’s nomination said. “Dr. Nhi’s passion for giving is contagious, spreading kindness to all around her.”

Pham said she has great admiration for Erickson, who has helped Pham’s clinic with fundraisers throughout the years.

“She’s got us so involved with the community,” Pham said. “She’s so vibrant and happy. She’s a great friend.”

Pham started her clinic 15 years ago, and has developed a unique bond with her patients through the years.

“The patients have really welcomed me. I’ve had so many since we started 15 years ago,” Pham said. “I go to patients all the time for advice and fellowship. I never dread going to work.”

Pham said the real work starts when she gets back home and helps her husband Christian raise their three daughters.

For Pham, Mukilteo has always been special to her, even before she moved to town.

“I went to the Mukilteo beach because, as a kid, my family was poor,” Pham said. “I grew up going there because it’s free.”

While she and other past Citizens of the Year were telling Pham she was the 2018 recipient, Erickson talked about how special it was that the award was going to an immigrant because of how hot-button an issue it is in politics.

Pham and her family migrated to America from Vietnam when she was just 2 years old.

“That really hit home when Elizabeth talked about the award going to an immigrant,” Pham said. “There’s so much going on in the news, and I just want to be thankful for this.”

Pham said she is extremely proud to be in the U.S., and because of that, she aims to give back to the community as much as she can.

“Receiving this award as Mukilteo Citizen of the Year touches my heart deeply,” Pham said. “There is no bigger honor for me than in 4th grade when I took the oath from the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization and became a citizen of the United States of America. I am so extremely proud to be an American.

“In that oath, I promised to serve my country to the best of my ability, and I have never forgotten this promise I made at the age of 9.”

When Pham and her family first came to America, they lived in Snohomish and were sponsored by St. Michaels Church.

“The church and that community really came together to help us and nurture us,” Pham said. “Now, here I am in Mukilteo, and every time I have something that compels my heart, they come through with kindness and love.”

While Pham is constantly donating and volunteering in the Mukilteo community, she also makes an impact globally.

Last year, Pham, along with others through Medical Relief International (MRI), completed a mission trip to Lesvos, Greece. Just last month, Pham traveled to the small African country of Tanzania, where she witnessed the opening of the Barikiwa Medical Center, a maternity and dental clinic that MRI has helped fund over the last four years.

Pham and the Mukilteo Dental Center host a variety of local fundraisers throughout the year such as toy drives and their annual Spirit of Aloha food drive.

The food drive is to ensure that children who receive free or reduced lunches at school don’t go hungry during the summer.

Pham said their clinic has such a strong relationship with the community that whenever they host these food and toy drives, they always receive an incredible amount of donations.

The Mukilteo Dental Center also recently started their “Pet Love Fest” fundraiser, which aimed to bring awareness to animal adoption in the area. Anytime someone sent in a picture of their animal, the center donated $5.

“The first year, our goal was $500,” Pham said. “We broke that in less than a day.”

The fundraiser also prompted the Pham family to donate a dog of their own, Jin Jin.

“It means ‘precious’ in Korean,” Pham said. “My two girls fell in love with her after seeing a video.”

Additionally, Pham and the Mukilteo Dental Center

“We honor our veterans and their families with pro bono dental treatment at Mukilteo Dental Center, and we host a cafe style fellowship for veterans,” she said. “Within that one day alone, we donate on average about $13,000 to $15,000 worth of dentistry.

“Veterans are definitely close to my heart. I wanted to become a Navy dentist to serve, but couldn’t swim, so I joined the National Service CORP to serve underserved communities - mostly women and children.”

Pham will be the guest of honor in the annual Lighthouse Festival parade, and also will have a reception in her honor on Saturday, July 28, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Harbour Pointe Senior Living. The Mukilteo Kiwanis Club and Harbour Senior Living host the reception. Additionally, Pham’s name will join the past winners on a plaque at the Rosehill Community Center.

“I’ve participated in the parade before where I handed out food bars I’d gotten donated,” Pham said. “It means so much to be a part of it again. I wonder if they’ll let me throw out sugar-free snacks for the kids!”

Pham said she believes Mukilteo is well-aware of social issues, especially relating to issues of race and inequality, and also loves how diverse the community is.

“As an immigrant, that’s our country’s history. Mukilteo is represented as a melting pot,” she said. “We share a great sense of community.”

Pham said there’s no way she would have received this honor if it weren’t for her support staff, which includes her family, her co-workers, and the community as a whole, who allow her to have these fundraisers, and also volunteer locally and globally.

“I accept this not for me, but on behalf of all the community,” Pham said. “There’s so much beauty in serving. It builds a sense of community and ‘Phamily.’ Yes, with a “Ph” because that’s how I see Mukilteo. I always tell people they’re ‘Phamtastic’ or are part of my ‘Phamily.’

“The community knows the international and local issues going on and they want to help. I hope to compel others to come join me.”

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.