Be a ChangeMaker

Do you know a person, or an organization, dedicated to making our county a healthier place?  Nominate them for a ChangeMaker award!

ChangeMakers make our community safer, better or more beautiful for everyone. They are people who improve the lives of others and, in turn, create a healthier community through their passion for serving others.

Our communities are more vibrant, richer and connected because of them. Yet, we rarely acknowledge their contributions. With the ChangeMaker award, you have the opportunity to recognize and honor someone who’s really making a difference.

To nominate a ChangeMaker, submit a 300 word essay naming the person or organization, describing the specific work they do and how it has changed your community.

One individual and two organizations will be honored in front of over 400 people at the 4th annual, “At the Edge of Amazing – Snohomish County Health Summit,” at the Tulalip Resort on Wednesday, October 11th.

Email it to us at with the subject line: ChangeMaker 2018.

Deadline for nominations is August 17, 2018. Click here to learn more!

ChangeMaker categories include:

Individual ChangeMaker Award

In the spirit of Sister Georgette, this goes to someone who sees a need and acts upon that need, far beyond what one might expect of a single person, to make their community more vibrant by improving the lives of others.

Community Organization ChangeMaker Award

This goes to a lesser known organization doing amazing things with limited resources and visibility. They have created something far beyond what one would expect could be done. Their community is richer and more connected because of them and the inspiration they provide to those around them.

Cornerstone Organization ChangeMaker Award

This award goes to an established organization (or a division within an organization) with lots of resources, credibility and status that is redefining itself and its mission, in a way that allows the community to rise up in a safer, better, and more beautiful way.

Award History

Introduced in 2015, the ChangeMaker Awards are given annually in the spirit of Sister Georgette Bayless, a beloved Sister of Providence.  Sister Georgette’s heartfelt efforts, to go above and beyond to provide care and support to all those around her, helped build our local hospice service as well as the sexual assault center in Everett.  The award is given in three categories – Individual, Community Organization, and Cornerstone Organization.  Previous ChangeMaker Award recipients include Mary Toews of Mari’s Place, Familias Unidas, Miriam Vargas, Beck’s Place, Dr. Jimmy Grierson, Adopt A Stream Foundation, and Everett Housing Authority.

2017 Individual ChangeMaker:

Jimmy Grierson, MD. Leads “Healing and Hope for the Hurting”

“All individuals should have access to free, professional healthcare services regardless of circumstances,” is the thought that came to Dr. Jimmy Grierson while spending his vacation providing free medical services in Haiti. It inspired a vision of how he could serve the health needs in his own, local community as he served the patients in Haiti.

Upon returning to his medical practice in Marysville, Dr. Grierson worked tirelessly to share his vision and rally support from donors and volunteers. In June 2009, the Safe Harbor Free Clinic in Stanwood opened its doors. Serving an estimated 2,000 patients a year, who might otherwise go without healthcare, the clinic has expanded to include an in-house lab, specialty clinics and dental care, and is the only “brick and mortar” free clinic located between Seattle and the Canadian border.

In addition to his dedication to Safe Harbor and his full time medical practice, Dr. Grierson serves on the YMCA board in Stanwood, coaches his kids’ sports teams and remains a visionary for those in need – focus-ing on health prevention and intervention.

2017 Community Organization ChangeMaker:

Adopt A Stream Foundation Teaching Environmental Stewardship for Our Streams & Wetlands

Tom Murdoch realized that someone needed to educate our county’s residents to protect and preserve the environmental health and beauty of our local waters. Thanks to his vision and efforts, our community watersheds that feed our streams are cleaner and healthier and county residents continue to be educated on the importance of water quality stewardship.

Tom’s original Adopt A Stream Program, established in 1980, is now the Adopt A Stream Foundation that has educated thousands of students, restored dozens of streams on public and private lands, removed and improved hundreds of fish passage barriers, and continues to improve, restore and naturalize community watersheds that flow into streams inhabited by fish and wildlife, including salmon.

To expand their work, AASF partnered with Snohomish County Parks to build the NW Stream Center in McCollum Park. Now home to the Streamkeeper™ Academy and the Junior Streamkeep-ers outreach program for elementary and middle schools, it is a place for

2017 Cornerstone Organization ChangeMaker:


Everett Housing Authority Going Above & Beyond to Support Everett Residents’

NeedsWhen faced with a difficult decision about the future of the aged, deteriorating 244-unit, Baker Heights complex, the Everett Housing Authority could have simply chosen to do their job and efficiently relocate this complex’s long-term residents. Instead, they have risen beyond their role of providing safe and affordable, quality housing, symbolizing a much bigger, more caring advocacy for this community.

The care and compassion EHA is showing for each of these residents can be seen at every turn. They are working with each resident, lovingly guiding them step-by-step through the process, while keeping a close eye to ensure they maintain their important cultural and support ties. They are anticipating the community’s needs and provid-ing the tools and connections needed to allow them to flourish in their new environments. It is not enough to just find them housing: EHA wants to make sure their residents are happy, secure and well established in their new homes.

EHA’s understanding and empathy for their residents and the lengths to which they are acting – above and beyond their organizational mission – continues to lift this community and provide them with the tools and resources that will help them be successful now and in the future.

2016 Individual ChangeMaker:

When women don’t have access to transportation and healthcare education, life can be difficult. Four years ago, Miriam Vargas recognized these issues were negatively influencing the lives of women living on Casino Road in Everett, and she quietly set to work doing something about it.

She began teaching women to drive. In her own car. Using her own insurance. Miriam’s initial program graduated 26 women.

In 2014, Miriam expanded her efforts, earning her Department of Health certificate as a community health worker as well as a “Promotoras de Salud” supported by Familias Unidas, a program of Lutheran Community Services Northwest. From there, she answered the call to educate women and offer resources. Specifically, she dedicated herself to teaching women in the local community about breast, cervical and colon health.

She became familiar with community-identified priorities and began advocating for those needs. She became a bridge between agencies’ services and the families who desperately needed them. And through it all, she has been deeply committed to and involved with English Language Learning and GED programs supported by the Mukilteo YMCA on Casino Road. She also sits on the board of the YMCA Engaging Hispanic and Latino Families Project.

Miriam Vargas is a champion of health, social justice and education opportunities. For women. For families. For anyone who needs a Miriam Vargas in their lives.

2015 Individual ChangeMaker:

Mary Toews is the founder of Mari’s Place: A Creative Space for Children & Adults. In addition to this she works as an interpreter and translator for several area hospitals and local businesses. In addition she serve as an instructor at ESL through educational programs for crime prevention for Latino families, Parks and Recreations Department.

She enjoys volunteering her time and energy to several local causes. She was the President of the Booster Drama Club for Lake Stevens High School, the committee Chairman for Legacy Project at the Children’s Museum, serves as the Board Director of the Education Foundation in Lake Stevens, United Way Snohomish County Vision Council and is a proud member of the Rotary Club.

She has a bachelor’s degree in Human Services from the University of Mexico, and Law degree in International Business as well as certification in Early Childhood Education.