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Longtime Kirkland volunteer organizer passes baton
If Patty Tucker asked for a business card, it was likely because she was going to add you to her growing list of nearly 1,000 volunteers.
Now, after 15 years of organizing volunteers for the Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce, the Kirkland Downtown Association and the Kirkland Performance Center, Tucker will no longer send the mass email “begging” for volunteers, as she puts it.
“I loved it, people were so nice,” Tucker said. “Volunteers are great in this city.”
Although Tucker had an impressive list, she recalls sending the emails as being a full-time job because she could only send 50 at one time.
“I’m considered a spammer,” she jokes.
Then of course, she would follow up with reminder emails, and when the volunteering was complete, she would send a batch of thank you emails. About 100 volunteers would turn out for each event, with at least 50 regulars.
“There was always kind of a smile in her requests for help,” said Diane Charouhas, a volunteer and Tucker’s longtime friend. “You could sense that she was smiling, some kind of politeness among her (emails), the way she could corral volunteers. It was like you weren’t just doing it for Kirkland, you were doing it for Patty.”
Tucker gathered volunteers for Clean Sweep, the 4th of July event, SummerFest, holiday decorating and de-decorating every year. She says her favorite events are either holiday decorating or Clean Sweep, an annual event for volunteers to help clean up around Kirkland.
“Sometimes I’d just burst out in tears because I couldn’t believe so many people came out to volunteer for us at Clean Sweep because that’s hard work,” Tucker said.
Charouhas recalls that Tucker was “always there with coffee and donuts,” a behind-the-scene type of a person and was always smiling.
Santos Contreras, a former Kirkland City Council member, said Tucker was interested in volunteering within Kirkland since she moved here 17 years ago.
“She’s a go-getter, very out there and wants to do good for the community,” Contreras said.
Councilwoman Penny Sweet agrees.
“When Patty and David (her late husband) arrived in Kirkland they simply began, I think Patty would call it, ‘a love affair’ with Kirkland,” Sweet said in an email. “I don’t know anyone who became as committed as quickly into a community.”
Although Tucker will still do the ribbon-cutting events for the Chamber and volunteer on her own time, Tucker passed the job of volunteer coordination to Nancy DeMond, who will oversee the task as a Chamber employee in a new paid position.
“She is so nice and has promised me that she will never give out (volunteers’) email addresses to anyone,” Tucker said of DeMond.
According to DeMond, she is the co-founder and vice president of marketing with EcoPet Waste Systems, is a marketing consultant with DeMond Consulting and has worked in marketing and sales at the Heathman Hotel and the Woodmark Hotel. DeMond holds a bachelor’s degree in hospitality business management and marketing from Washington State University.
“I’m looking forward to the Kirkland Shamrock Run,” said DeMond. “I think it will be a fantastic opportunity to have a fun St. Patrick’s Day run. I’m always amazed and surprised at how much people want to volunteer in Kirkland.”
DeMond mentioned a lot of the volunteer coordination will come from a new website, set up by the new Kirkland Events Foundation, that will allow people to see what events are going on and pick and choose the hours they can serve. Volunteers can sign up to help by visiting volunteerkirkland.com.
“Community cannot survive without volunteers. We cannot afford to pay people to do all that work,” Tucker said. “People don’t know how lucky they are to live here, everybody cares about everybody.”