WARRENTON —Marlin Martin, director of Clatsop Community Action’s Regional Food Bank, dedicates his days to feeding the hungry of Clatsop County. Mitch Mitchum volunteers his time with every imaginable community group in Astoria. Brett and Tiffany Estes dedicate themselves to serving their community from the public and private sectors.
Martin took home the 12th Richard Ford Distinguished Service Award, while Tiffany and Brett Estes and Mitch Mitchum all took home a George Award at the Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce’s 140th annual banquet Saturday (this year with a hat theme) at the Astoria Golf & Country Club.
Also honored were Chamber Executive of the Year Skip Hauke, the Chamber Ambassadors’ favorite business, Clatsop Distributing, cruise host volunteers, past chamber board members and the two men who helped prevent the chamber building from burning to the ground.
Hauke and Warrenton Mayor Dick Hellberg announced Martin the winner of the Ford Award.
The Richard Ford award is named for the former city inspector and fire chief of the city of Warrenton. Ford was remembered, said Hauke, more for his community service outside of work.
“Tonight’s recipient has a similar character to Richard Ford,” he said of Martin. “His job is about serving those who are hungry right here in Clatsop County.
“Even his boss says he routinely and voluntarily works 15 to 20 hours a week beyond his normal paid working hours, conducting food drives, preparing for cooking classes, filleting fish, butchering elk, venison or other game in order to acquire more wholesome, nutritious food for those in need.”
Martin, who CCA announced as its new food program developer in 2007, brought 30 years of experience in the supermarket industry to the position, which helped coordinate the agency’s transition from its old warehouse to the new food bank.
Martin, who moved to the North Coast in 2007, has his own history of lean times, going to work at age 14 on the “kill floor” of a slaughterhouse in his home state of South Dakota and spending half of his $20 weekly paycheck on groceries to help his mother.
Mayor Willis Van Dusen, sporting his own cowboy hat, and Hauke, wearing a baseball cap with a pony tail protruding from the back, approached the podium to announce Tiffany and Brett Estes winners of the George Award, named for the saying “let George do it,” meaning to push the job off on someone else. The award has been given out to more than 100 people since 1960.
“This couple takes divide and conquer to the extreme with the amount of service they provide to our community, in addition to their full-time jobs,” said Hauke of the couple.
They moved to Astoria in 2007 when Brett Estes was hired as the city’s community development director.
“The first one, as quoted by a colleague, ‘works tirelessly helping downtown Astoria,’ specifically through her volunteer work with the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association.”
Hauke referred to Tiffany Estes, who while running her company the Whole Brain Creative, a graphic design, Web design and writing services firm, serves as treasurer for the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association, pours beer at its Pacific Northwest Brew Cup fundraiser, helps organize its community cleanup and provides training to colleagues.
She was also responsible for the Astoria Bicentennial Celebration’s logo, has served as president of the Astoria Rotary Club and is the incoming assistant governor of regional Rotary clubs.
“Her other half volunteers his time with the Astoria-Warrenton Kiwanis, Clatsop County Historical Society (and) multiple advisory committees in addition to his job,” said Hauke of Brett Estes.
“This George Award winner is very selfless and works diligently in the community,” said Van Dusen of Mitch Mitchum, who took home his own George Award.
Mitchum, who owns and has helped restore multiple buildings in downtown Astoria, has worn many hats throughout his time on the North Coast, including as public works director from 1994 to 2005 and serving on the boards for the trolley, the cruise hosts and the historical society. Mitchum, who is also a retired U.S. Navy officer, moved to Astoria in 1994. He is the president of the Astoria Sunday Market Board of Directors and an active Rotary member, doing roadside cleanups, serving crab dinners at the Crab, Seafood and Wine Festival and delivering Christmas gifts.
For Mitchum, the exceptional volunteerism comes from the golden years.
“Astoria has a large population of retirees, more so than the rest of Oregon,” said Mitchum about retirees driving the North Coast’s volunteerism. “It creates a pool of people with the time” and the means.
The current level of volunteerism in Astoria, said Mitchum, is astounding, with the cruise ship hosts numbering 150, the trolley operators with 60 and the Astoria Rotary having 70. When asked whether Astoria can keep this trend up, Mitchum replied: “The younger generation gets older. You’ve got a lot of people coming here to retire.”
Hauke, who was announced as the 2012 Chamber Executive of the Year, was named head of the chamber in 2005. His family had been in the grocery business in Astoria for three generations, until he sold his Hauke’s Sentry Market property to Safeway.
He is also the only person to have ever won two George awards, in 1982 and in 2002.
“Most of you already know we had a little fire at the Chamber last October in the green building,” said Hauke of the Oct. 21 blaze at the Clatsop Economic Development Resources room in the Bergerson Building. “The blaze destroyed only one room in the building, but the smoke and water damage affected the entire building, including three offices and our meeting room.”
Darrell Sutton was driving home from his job at KFC just after 9 p.m. Oct. 21 when he noticed smoke coming from the Bergerson Building next to the Chamber offices. He alerted staff at the neighboring Lamplighter Motel, including Jim Courtney. Sutton grabbed a fire extinguisher and Courtney grabbed a hose, and the two battled the blaze before the arrival of the Astoria Fire Department. They were both honored at Saturday’s banquet, although only Courtney could attend.
This story originally appeared in Daily Astorian.