*****The next Awards of Excellence ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 19, 2018
Photo Album (2017)
On Saturday May 13th, 2017 TOGETHER! held their annual Awards of Excellence ceremony at South Puget Sound Community College. Back for the second year following a hiatus and reinvention, Awards of Excellence now honors and celebrates South Sound youth whose paths have been marked with adversity and whose grace and strength continue to shine through. More than 29 different schools and youth centered organizations nominated participants to receive the award. This year 35 awards and 10 scholarships were given, including a 1-year tuition waiver for SPSCC, as well as 2 continuing scholarships to 2016 Awards of Excellence scholarship winners.
Honorees were featured in The Olympian newspaper and publicly recognized at the Awards of Excellence ceremony. More than $10,000 in scholarships were awarded thanks to Gateway Rotary (our top scholarship donor), TwinStar Credit Union, Tumwater McDonald’s, and a year tuition waiver from South Puget Sound Community College Scholarship Foundation! Based on the knowledge that supporting and encouraging young people helps our community thrive, TOGETHER! and partners are proud to continue this tradition for another year!
Aylin Gonzales, a 2016 scholarship winner is incredibly grateful for the continuing support scholarship awarded at Awards of Excellence 2017. “Thank you so much for supporting my education again this year. Awards of Excellence has been such a great support for me. It’s been a relief not having to stress over paying for my classes, and [the scholarship has] helped me focus more on school. As some of you know, I am working towards becoming a registered nurse and getting my Associates degree is the first step. Awards of Excellence has helped me to be able to go to school and take the classes I need to reach this goal, one step at a time,” Aylin said.
“Higher education comes with a high price [however], and being an independent youth it’s not easy doing the college process all alone.” said Charissa DeWitt during a speech at the 2017 Awards of Excellence ceremony. “Thanks to the TOGETHER! scholarship I have the opportunity to help people in the near future.” DeWitt, a 2016 scholarship winner also benefitted from continuing scholarship support in 2017. She continued to say, “I want to say thank you [TOGETHER!] for the opportunity to get this award and the good that’s being done here should really be continued for all the other students that are going to need it in the future.”
In addition to the heartfelt speeches from Gonzalez and DeWitt, handing out the scholarships and awards, the event also featured a sincere speech, and musical performance from Gryffen Murry, a 2016 Awards of Excellence honoree who also emceed the event with Bobby Williams of The Bridge. CYS’s The Bridge, and the Olympia High School’s UpStanders delivered music and poetry performances.
The ceremony was a hit; emotions from TOGETHER!’s staff and nominees were clearly visible. Pride, laughter and applause filled the air. Awards of Excellence was live-streamed on Facebook with 412+ views (despite tech challenges) and growing. Like any great thing, this event is possible only through the collaboration and partnership of many. TOGETHER! would like to especially thank our sponsors and in-kind donors: Gateway Rotary, Tumwater McDonalds, South Puget Sound Community College Foundation, TwinStar Credit Union, The Olympian, Forrey’s Forza, DZines, The Bridge, TAGS Awards and Specialties, Shanna Paxton Photography, Tumwater Safeway, Tumwater Costco, and Ralph’s Thriftway. Thank you also to event emcees Gryffen Murray & Bobby Williams, to The Bridge performers Gryffen Murray, Shanelle Berry, Lelh Inman (a.k.a Shady B & Taw_Nae), and to The UpStanders (Olympia High School) performers Mikayla Fisher-An, Maitlynn Reed, Andrew Pizana, Savantè Givens, and Rose Rinehart.
Thank you so much to everyone who sponsored, volunteered at, or attended Back to Basics! We had our biggest events yet in 2017 and we look forward to many more years of serving our community with sports physicals and immunizations.
Back to Basics 2017 by the Numbers:
-34 medical volunteers served over 250 students with free sports physicals.
-132 immunizations were given out to 65 students.
-200+ dental hygiene kits were distributed.
Healthy Futures: Redefining Prevention, formerly Substance Abuse: A Community Response, is a conference for prevention & treatment professionals, school & district staff, nonprofit administrators & programs, community organizers and anyone else who is interested in learning and sharing about innovative community responses to youth substance abuse, mental health, and other barriers to health and success for youth. TOGETHER!’s focus on cross-sector collaboration towards equity, community mobilization, and systems change extends to Healthy Futures, where we bring representatives from different fields, including and amplifying youth voices, to learn from each other and coordinate their approaches to solving problems in our community, together. Join us this April for an invigorating, inspiring, and innovative conference!
Click here for more information.
JOIN US for Hats Off to TOGETHER! - Road Trip Edition! February 24th, 2018, from 5-8pm at the SPSCC Lacey Event Center. Wear your best tourist attire and come with us on a trip around the United States, complete with a delicious dinner, live & silent auctions, and more! Click here to reserve your seat!