Washougal’s Pat Suggs named ‘Silver Citizen’ by county group

Commission on Aging to present honor on Nov. 15

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Pat Suggs, the Clark County Commission on Aging's 2023 "Silver Citizen" award recipient, stands in front of her Washougal home Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. (Doug Flanagan/Post-Record)

Washougal resident Pat Suggs remained as humble as ever after finding out she had been selected for another notable community service award — her second in the past four months.

“I don’t need a trophy case,” Suggs said. “I just am glad to help people. That’s what I really want to do, and that’s what I do.”

She does what she does better than most. Her efforts have been recognized by the Clark County Commission on Aging, which recently selected Suggs as the winner of its 2023 Silver Citizen Award.

Suggs will receive the award, which annually recognizes the positive community contributions of older Clark County residents, during the Commission on Aging’s monthly meeting at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, at the Clark Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St., Vancouver.

“I didn’t have a clue what was happening, so it was a surprise,” Suggs said when asked about her reaction to being named as the award winner. “It’s nice to be recognized like that. I certainly appreciate it. It’s kind of fun.”

Individuals must be 60 years of age or older and a Clark County resident to be considered for the award, and “must have enhanced the community through their life’s work, engagement of others, volunteerism and/or other impactful acts of service to the community for any age group,” according to the Commission on Aging’s website.

“Pat stood out for the impact she has had through her diverse and wide-ranging personal volunteer service that spanned nearly 50 years and the significant community support for her nomination,” according to the Commission on Aging.

Suggs has made a difference in the lives of east Clark County residents for several decades by serving in key roles in a variety of local nonprofit organizations and volunteer groups. Earlier this year, she was named as the winner of the 2023 Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award.

“She does emulate quite a bit in regards to giving back to your community,” said her husband, Ernie Suggs, a Washougal City Council member. “She’s been doing this for a long time, and has never asked for a dime or anything. She doesn’t like (other people) to think that she deserves (recognition), but she does. She’s very humble.”

Christi Wood, one of Suggs’ six daughters, believes that her mother “is a great example as to what a devoted and giving citizen should look like.”

“Every week and almost every day she is battling in some sort of service for others in her community,” Wood wrote in her nomination letter. “It brings her the utmost joy to help those around her, within her neighborhood, church, community or family. It makes her feel needed, it keeps her young, and she enjoys spreading her love to all who will accept it. She will continue to serve and help others until the day she dies, because that is the type of person she is and always has been.”

Pat Suggs grew up in Los Angeles, moved to Washougal in 1976, with her husband Ernie, who had accepted a position with the Camas School District, and worked for many years as a substitute teacher and paraprofessional educator in the Washougal School District.

“I think (my desire to serve) can come later in life,” Pat told The Post-Record earlier this year. “I was kind of busy with six kids. I wasn’t taught; I didn’t know how to serve. My mother taught school and didn’t have the time to take meals to anybody or sew things for people. (I became inspired) by watching others around me — maybe the people I work with in my church.”

Pat currently serves as a board member for the Two Rivers Heritage Museum, Unite! Washougal and the Washougal Society for Advancement and Family Enrichment, and volunteers for the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Camas-Washougal. Along with Ernie, she started the Children’s Home Society of Washington’s Weekend Backpack Program, which has provided free food to students in need for more than 10 years.

“Pat Suggs is the community member who inspires, supports, and leads her peers and community to positive change,” Unite! Washougal Executive Director Margaret McCarthy said of Pat in her nomination letter. “(She) embodies the highest caliber of compassion, determination, drive, creative problem solving and dedication to her community.”

Pat is currently preparing for her second year as a “reading buddy” for Read Northwest, a Vancouver nonprofit that strives to elevate early childhood literacy in Southwest Washington that launched in first-grade classrooms at Hathaway Elementary School in March 2022 and expanded to Gause Elementary School for the 2022-23 school year.

“Pat exemplified what it means to be a positive, productive, involved and caring member of our community,” Nancy Boon, the Washougal School District’s family community resource coordinator, wrote in her nomination letter. “We are so fortunate to have an individual such as Pat living here making a difference in so many ways. … I can honestly say that it’s people like Pat who make this community such an incredible place to live and work. She shares her time, energy and positive attitude in so many ways, all of which make a positive and lasting impact.”