City honors three for volunteer activities

Kelsey Creek Park is a large undertaking – a 160-acre, working homage to Bellevue’s farming heritage, complete with sheep, horses and a big white barn. Maintaining the park is a special challenge. Jim McWha, a volunteer handyman, helps staff meet that challenge.

The park features McWha has personally built include a rolling gate for the barn and pens and shelters for the poultry, waterfowl and rabbits. For his contributions, McWha has been named Bellevue’s first Volunteer of the Year.

The City Council on May 11 honored McWha, as well as Community Volunteer of the Year Joan Mehline and Youth Volunteer of the Year Rick Teegarden. McWha, Mehline and Teegarden are examples of the more than 5,900 volunteers who performed 128,800 hours of community service for city programs in 2008.

“Volunteers’ contributions make a very real and lasting impact to the community,” City Manager Steve Sarkozy said.

The city established annual volunteer awards in an effort to recognize people who have not only made a significant contribution to the community, but also have shown leadership, innovation, creativity and collaboration. Bellevue facilitates volunteer activities both for the city and for the entire Eastside, so there are separate “city” and “community” volunteer awards.

The council recognized Mehline for helping the Puget Sound Blood Center. Over the years, she has assisted an estimated 250,000 donors. Since each pint of blood helps up to three hospital patients, Joan’s care has helped save as many as 750,000 people in the community.

Teegarden, a Sammamish High School junior, was recognized for his work with the “Kids Care Coat Drive,” which has resulted in more than 5,000 coats and jackets being donated to needy people.

“Volunteering is a very powerful, positive way to respond to today’s challenges,” Sarkozy said. “Every contribution improves our world. We invite all the citizens of Bellevue to consider becoming a volunteer, either in a city program or throughout the community. Some very powerful and satisfying opportunities exist.”

For more information about Bellevue’s volunteer program, or to access the Community Volunteering Guide, visit the city's volunteer website or contact the city’s volunteer program coordinator at