The Sequim area’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program received the volunteer service award for its efforts last year. Presenting the award on April 16 was Diane Klontz, deputy director for Division and Program Alignment with the state Department of Commerce, to, second from left, Clallam County Fire District 3 Fire Chief Justin Grider, Charles Meyer, a CERT division chief, who nominated the program for the award, and CERT Senior Program Manager Blaine Zechenelly. (Matthew Nash /Olympic Peninsula News Group)

The Sequim area’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program received the volunteer service award for its efforts last year. Presenting the award on April 16 was Diane Klontz, deputy director for Division and Program Alignment with the state Department of Commerce, to, second from left, Clallam County Fire District 3 Fire Chief Justin Grider, Charles Meyer, a CERT division chief, who nominated the program for the award, and CERT Senior Program Manager Blaine Zechenelly. (Matthew Nash /Olympic Peninsula News Group)

CERT receives Serve Washington volunteer award

SEQUIM — The Sequim Operational Area and Eastern Clallam County Community Emergency Response Emergency Team program received the state Volunteer Service Award for the Peninsula/Coastal Region from Serve Washington for more than 22,000 hours of service last year.

Diane Klontz, deputy director for Division and Program Alignment with the state Department of Commerce, presented the award to SOA/CERT leadership on April 16 in Carlsborg during the Clallam County Fire District 3 fire commissioners meeting.

Acknowledging the 500-plus volunteer service hours, Klontz said, “(That) is a lot of time; thank you all for your service.”

She said it was an honor to be there and thanked them for lifting others up.

Fire Chief Justin Grider and CERT Senior Program Manager Blaine Zechenelly accepted the award on behalf of the volunteers. Charles Meyer, a CERT division chief, nominated SOA/CERT for the award that was chosen by a panel comprising Serve Washington commissioners and community members.

CERT is made up of community volunteers trained to help people during disasters when professional first responders might not be immediately available. They meet for one hour per month to receive refresher training on various preparedness skills and topics, organizers said.

In 2023, CERT volunteers partnered with the Sequim Food Bank to distribute more than 1,600 family meal boxes to people experiencing food insecurity between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

They also helped facilitate memorial services for Fire District 3 Capt. Charles “Chad” Cate, who died in January 2023.

They continue to help at many community events with traffic control and basic first aid.

Fire commissioners also read a resolution to recognize Zechenelly and the CERT program for their “outstanding contributions to the community in the realm of emergency preparedness.” They also thanked Meyer and Zechenelly’s wife, Cindy.

Zechenelly thanked commissioners and fire district leaders and said, “without their support, the program would have gone nowhere.”

Since it started in 2016, CERT has more than 550 volunteer members.

Serve Washington leaders said via press release they congratulate all award recipients and expresses gratitude for their selfless contributions, which enrich the lives of Washington residents and strengthen communities statewide. Read more about the winners here: servewashington.wa.gov/volunteer/washington-state-volunteer-service-awards.

For more about CERT, contact Cindy Zechenelly at cert@ccfd3.org, visit ccfd3.org or call 360-683-4242.

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