The Kennewick Man and Woman of the Year organization honored two men and two women for 2020 and 2021 on June 13 after postponing the annual event for two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The program is presented by Soroptimist International of Pasco-Kennewick and the Kennewick Past Men of the Year to honor people for their civic contributions to Kennewick. Residency is not required.
Jeff Groce and Alisha Piper were the Man and Woman of the Year for 2020. Chuck DeGooyer and Gloria Williamson were the Man and Woman of the year for 2021.
Groce moved to Kennewick 15 years ago and immediately became “Mr. Volunteer-How-Can-I-Get-Involved-In-Our-Community,” according to Joan and Ronald Hue, who nominated him for the award.
He is actively involved with Kennewick American Youth Baseball Association, including serving as its current president. He is credited with helping get the Cal Ripken Tournament sited in Kennewick and with leading efforts to upgrade the fields and rebuild the clubhouse with furniture he donated.
He also lends his talents to the Water Follies Board of Directors, the Trios Foundation Board, Circle of Hope Columbia Center Rotary and the Human Trafficking Committee. He also serves as a liaison to the separate Tri-Citian of the Year program.
Piper is a “spectacular volunteer” who leapt into action when she learned about the Kennewick Housing Authority’s 16-unit Lilac Homes initiative, according to Pat Turner, who nominated her for the award.
The facility serves formerly homeless individuals and provides beds and basic furnishings. Piper realized residents would need more to organize their lives and engaged family, friends, members of her church and KHA staff to assist with furnishing the homes in east Kennewick.
She previously traveled to Mexico to build homes and is an active promoter of campaigns to collect food to fill pantries, organizes Christmas gift campaigns and supports World Relief refugees.
DeGooyer is a fixture in the Tri-Cities cancer care community after serving as a founding member and driver to unite area hospitals to create the Tri-Cities Cancer Center, which he led until he retired in December 2020, according to nominators optometrist Gerry Berges and Bob Kelly.
Under his leadership, the cancer center secured two important accreditations, the AASTRO Accreditation program for Excellence in 2016 and National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers.
In retirement, he remains a board member for the Tri-Citian of the Year program and previously was active on the board of United Way of Benton and Franklin Counties Foundation. He has held leadership roles with the American Cancer Society and the Kiwanis Club of Kennewick and its foundation.
Williamson is “a quiet, effective servant leader who has made a difference in many, many lives,” said Jenny Olson and Melissa Parkes, who nominated her for the honor.
She has served in leadership programs for PEO (Providing Educational Opportunities for Women), the Delta Kappa Gamma teachers sorority and Leadership Tri-Cities.
As a teacher at Kennewick’s Vista Elementary, she had a heart for kids who are “different” and helped them thrive in school. In retirement, she took a young relative who was struggling on the autism spectrum under her wing, helping him catch up on what he would miss and taking him on lengthy road trips to explore the natural world.
She also taught at Cottonwood Elementary.
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