VIDEO: See what this year’s Westside Awards winners told those gathered to celebrate them

Story and photos/video by Tracy Record and Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

No matter how busy you are, set time aside to celebrate your hard work and success.

That advice was offered by the guest speaker at today’s Westside Awards breakfast, at which West Seattle Chamber of Commerce members and other attendees did exactly that – celebrating the four award recipients the Chamber had announced three weeks ago.

Each year, the Chamber invites community nominations for the four categories – Business of the Year, Emerging Business of the Year, Not-for-Profit of the Year, and Westsider of the Year – before choosing winners. All winners were at this morning’s celebration at The Hall at Fauntleroy – here’s what they had to say:

Business of the Year – Alki Beach Academy

10 years after founding their still-growing child-care business in North Delridge, Julieann Donohue and James Donohue said the award was “very unexpected, given some of the issues we’re dealing with right now” (a reference to the possibility they’ll have to move because of light-rail routing). They talked about Alki Beach Academy’s inclusion of special-needs kids, rooted in their decision to start the business because their own child, living with autism, was having challenges in a traditional school setting. Here’s everything they told the attendees:

Emerging Business of the Year – Southpaw Barber Shop

Co-proprietors Tommy Andrade and Jeff Chou accepted the award, and Andrade noted that the shop will celebrate its first anniversary this weekend. He explained he had left a tech career to answer the call to be a barber and help the community – “service first, community first” is the business philosophy. Here’s his speech:

Not-for-Profit of the Year – A Cleaner Alki

Erik Bell, who founded the growing organization that leads cleanups far beyond Alki, told his story of starting with cleanups while taking walks with his brother and broadening into a communitywide organization – with an invitation to anyone and everyone to get involved. Here’s everything he said:

Westsider of the Year – Madison Middle School teacher Mike Kreiger

This is a “community champion” type of award; Kreiger is a teacher and coach at Madison, involved with programs including eighth-graders mentoring newly arrived sixth-graders. Here’s his brief and energetic speech of gratitude:

Chamber executive director Rachel Porter, presiding over the first Westside Awards since she started the job nine months ago, congratulated all the winners and nominees for “dedication and excellence that makes West Seattle tick”:

Before the presentations, emcee Brian Callanan sat down for a conversation with guest speaker Fred Rivera, executive vice president of the Seattle Mariners.

Their far-ranging conversation included a discussion of inspiring your workforce by taking time to celebrate – for example, Rivera said, the Mariners have “First Place Fridays” – every Friday that the team is in first place, they celebrate with treats. Other advice included being aware of how people are using your product; the M’s, for example, are aware more and more people are seeing games in small chunks rather than the full three hours. Here’s their entire conversation:

Kreiger’s words bear repeating – they apply to all ages, even if you’re not an educator or parent: “No one remembers what you taught them, but they remember how you made them feel.” It’s likely that most on hand felt inspired, to say the least, as they headed out into the morning shortly thereafter.

All the past Westside Awards winners are listed here.

4 Replies to "VIDEO: See what this year's Westside Awards winners told those gathered to celebrate them"

  • Brad May 22, 2024 (7:45 pm)

    I’m so pleased that Alki Beach Academy was honored. We have sent our three children there and their care and love for all their students is incredible.  Jamie and Julieann are such wonderful people and have worked to ensure each child’s needs are met.  Thank you ABA!

  • Bobbie K May 22, 2024 (9:31 pm)

    Screaming congratulations to Southpaw Barber Shop! Tommy & Jeff & crew – West Seattle is so lucky to have you!! My hope is that your philosophy & authentic love, support & inclusion for everyone spreads like wild fire! You’re the real deal!!!! Well EARNED award!!!!!!!

  • Alki Jack May 22, 2024 (10:16 pm)

    Erik Bell, you are a true West Seattle Hero. Your hard work and leadership are as special as the organizations you have put together. West Seat is so blessed to have you. Alki Beach and many other places look SO, SO much better because of YOU.

  • Brian Callanan May 24, 2024 (8:24 am)

    Thanks for being there, WSB, and earning a nomination yourselves! Keep up the great work. Inspiring event, to be sure!

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