Unite! Washougal Community Coalition names volunteer of the year

Jennifer Cheshire: ‘We are all responsible for lifting our community up’

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Jennifer Cheshire

The Unite! Washougal Community Coalition has named Jennifer Cheshire as the 2022 recipient of its “Heart of a Volunteer” Excellence Award.

Each year, Unite! Washougal gives out the award in memory of Gina Farah, a former coalition member who died in 2018. Cheshire serves as the secretary of the Unite! Washougal board of directors.

“I am motivated to be involved with Unite! because I am part of the community, and I am a parent,” Cheshire stated in a recent Unite! Washougal newsletter. “I bike on the dike trail. I kayak in the rivers. I take excessive pictures of Dougan Falls. I stand on the dock and marvel at the Columbia. I hike at the wildlife refuge. I take so much enjoyment from these special places that I am driven to give back to the community.”

Cheshire also said she wants her son to grow up in a community that “cares — about him, about each other.”

“I want him to see that we are all responsible for lifting our community up, for bringing our community together, and for taking care of all that we have — including each other,” Cheshire said.

Certified as a substance abuse disorder professional in Washington state and as an alcohol and drug counselor in Oregon, Cheshire has been helping clients work through substance abuse and mental health issues for more than 20 years and has provided counseling services in Clark County since 2000.

Cheshire serves as a volunteer with several local organizations, focusing on substance abuse prevention, social service and social justice. She received the Southwest Washington Regional Prevention Advocacy Leadership Award in 2020 and the Washougal Community Coalition IMPACT award in 2021.

“My favorite Unite! event is the holiday parade,” Cheshire said. “It’s a time when the whole community is coming together just to celebrate — not to debate, not to divide, not to focus on our differences. We are all there just to have a good time. The parade is an opportunity to see something fun, hear music, to see children cheer and smile. When we, as a community, experience joy together, we can start to remember what unifies us, all that we have in common, and how we all want to live in a great community.”