By Hailey Palmer, Puyallup Tribal News
Employees of the Puyallup Tribal Health Authority were honored today at the facility’s annual Years of Service awards at the Emerald Queen Event Center.
Longtime employees were thanked for their service, and those who had retired during the height of the COVID-19 were recognized for their service.
Plus, it was a rare opportunity for employees to come together to socialize. PTHA Executive Director David Tonemah said that having an event with everyone in one room is key to fostering relationships.
“We work together Monday through Friday, 8 to 5, so, I think it’s important we get to know each other better and create kind of a family atmosphere,” he said.
Puyallup Tribe Medical Director Dr. Alan Shelton emceed the event, entertaining the crowd with jokes and leading the way in the group activities.
“It’s really special – you don’t realize how long some folks have been here,” Shelton said. “So, when they honor each group it’s fun to see that some have given 20, 25, 30 years, and it’s nice that we can say thank you and appreciate them.”
While the latter half of the event focused on PTHA employees who have been working there for at least five years, newcomers had a chance to introduce themselves at the beginning as Shelton passed the microphone to everyone who had worked at PTHA for a year or less.
Vice Chairwoman Sylvia Miller, Councilwoman Anna Bean and Councilman Fred Dillon were present throughout the morning and early afternoon.
The Tribe’s Culture and Language Departments stopped by to perform songs and dances and explain their significance.
While some jumped at the opportunity to join in on the singing and dancing, shyer attendees needed persuading. But before anyone knew it, a line of dancers had encircled the event space, simulating berry picking, hunting and paddling canoes with their movements.
Tonemah said he thought people walked out of the event feeling valued.
“I have to recognize my staff for putting this together because it’s quite an undertaking,” Tonemah said. “I believe it was a big success, and I think those people that won the awards felt like they were valued and I think that’s important for a staff in any organization.”
Following the lunch hour, the longevity awards were handed out starting with employees who had five years of service. Each received a beaded lanyard.
Those with 10 years of service were given drums. Those with 15 years were given a camp blanket, those with20 years were given a Pendleton blanket and those with 25 were given a mounted paddle with a plaque.
A full list of the honorees is below:
5 years of service:
Dr. Mikaela Alger
Dr. William Chythlook
10 years of service:
15 years of service:
20 years of service:
25 years of service:
Julie St. Claire
40 years of service:
Dr. Paul Barnett, 28+ years of service, 16+ years of service as a Commission Corp
Katie Clark, 24+ years of service
Dr. Gail Fulton, 28+ years of service
Dr. Sean Kelly, 18+ years of service, 14+ years of service as a Commission Corp
Laura Labouve, 21+ years of service
Patricia McCallum, 33+ years of service
Marian Ogden, 45+ years of service
Tony Torres, 23+ years of service