Fort Ward youths named 2016 Outstanding Young Philanthropists by Bainbridge Community Foundation

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – The Fort Ward Youth Advisory Committee has been named 2016 Outstanding Young Philanthropists by the Bainbridge Community Foundation.

Kate Merifield, Mark Dettman, Erik Appleberry and Aila Ikuse were honored for their two-year work on the Fort Ward Community Hall campaign.

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Also honored for service to the community are Cynthia Sears, 2016 Outstanding Bainbridge Philanthropist, and the Suquamish Tribe, 2016 Outstanding Philanthropic Organization. Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman and Suquamish Foundation Director Robin Sigo accepted the award for the Tribe.

The awards were presented at the Foundation’s eighth annual Inspiring People Philanthropy Celebration, Sept. 16 at IslandWood.

More than 170 guests gathered for the gala, with dignitaries including Trudi Inslee, First Lady of Washington State, and longtime Washington Secretary of State and island native Ralph Munro.

Special videos honoring each of the 2016 honorees were commissioned for the ceremony, and can be viewed at the Bainbridge Community Foundation’s Youtube channel.

As high school sophomores, the four Fort Ward youths dedicated themselves to restoring the fort’s historic bakery building for use as the first public hall at the south end of Bainbridge Island. Over time, as they continued to give presentations and hosted tours and events, their enthusiasm for the project motivated many other community members to contribute to the campaign. All four have now graduated.

The Fort Ward Community Hall project is a partnership between the Friends of Fort Ward neighborhood group and the Bainbridge Island Metro Park and Recreation District. Contributions to the project can be made through the One Call For All “Red Envelope” campaign, or online at

Jim Hopper, BCF executive director, praised the Fort Ward youths for their commitment to a public-service project that will serve island residents long into the future.

“The future of our community depends largely on decisions we make today,” Hopper said. “The Fort Ward youths displayed extraordinary initiative when they decided to renovate this historic treasure into a resource that would last generations longer.”


Fellow honorees Cynthia Sears and the Suquamish Tribe were celebrated for long and distinguished records of community giving.

CYNTHIA SEARS: In the nearly 30 years that Sears has called Bainbridge Island home, her remarkable generosity, spirit, and encouragement have helped build a thriving and vibrant arts and cultural community, the BCF said.

Sears created the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, a collecting museum with a focus on artists and works from the Puget Sound region that provides free access to art and education to approximately 55,000 visitors from around the world each year. She also founded the Island Treasure Award, which honors two island residents each year for excellence and outstanding contributions in the arts and humanities in our community.

Her generosity extends to education and social services. As a former trustee of BCF, she played an instrumental role in the creation of the Community Grants Cycle, which has to date awarded more than $1.5 million. Other organizations that have benefitted from her generosity include Island Volunteer Caregivers, the Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network, Bainbridge Performing Arts, and the Copper Canyon Press, an independent publisher of poetry.

SUQUAMISH TRIBE: The Suquamish Tribe was recognized for its long tradition of giving generously to help others, especially vulnerable populations. Through the Port Madison Enterprises Fund and the Suquamish Foundation, the Tribe has contributed millions of dollars in the spirit of helping the community.

Tribal giving supports arts, health care, public safety, recreation and social services. Some of the many local organizations that have benefitted include Bainbridge Arts & Crafts, the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, Bainbridge Youth Services, Island Time Activities, Bainbridge Performing Arts and Fort Ward Community Hall.

The Tribe promotes volunteerism and sponsors community events that bring people of all ages and cultures together. Each year it sponsors the Kitsap Great Give, which in 2016 raised $1.47 million for local nonprofits, and hosts a Spirit of Giving event, honoring the work of nonprofits and volunteers. The Tribe recently received the NOAA Excellence in Restoration Award, for dedication and leadership in coastal restoration in Eagle Harbor.

The Bainbridge Community Foundation was created in 2001 to encourage, inspire and provide meaningful ways for people to enhance the island community and sustain a unique way of life. The BCF mission is achieved by providing financial support, educational programming, and leadership to island nonprofits. Over the last fifteen years, BCF has grown to nearly $10 million in assets and has contributed $8.5 million to fund important causes that matter to Islanders.

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(Slideshow photos courtesy of Kate Jameson)