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Camas-Washougal Chamber Honors Citizen, Business Person, Educators of the Year


Washougal, WA — The Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards banquet Tuesday honoring the Citizen, Business Persons, and Educators of the Years, as well as student scholarship recipients. Held at the Orchard Hills Golf Club, Executive Director Jennifer Senescu emceed the program. 

2023 Citizen of the Year: Pat Suggs

Contributions to the Community: Suggs has served the Camas-Washougal community for 47 years. During that time, she also raised six daughters. She was a volunteer teacher for the Camas Community Education Program, has been a Brownie and Girl Scout leader and although she doesn’t have boys, she was a Cub Scout leader, as well. 

Suggs has been the Young Women’s President at her church and is responsible for all of the 12-18 year olds. She runs a program to enhance the progressive growth of young girls. Suggs was also the Relief Society President at her church where she oversaw the activities of all Latter-Day-Saint (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) women ages 18 and over. It is the oldest women’s organization in the United States.

She works on food drives for the community. Including support for the Children’s Home Society of Washington. She also ran their backpack program for over 5 years. Suggs collects cups for Hathaway Elementary Schools Program of Affordable Gifts for Parents as well as clothing and shoes for the Family Resource Program for Washougal School District.  Suggs is a Book Fairy, which is a program that provides equitable opportunities for children to learn, grow and thrive. 

Today at 74 years old, Suggs is still involved in the community.  She serves on the Drug Take Back Program, the Unite Committee, Two Rivers Heritage Museum Committee and is Co-chair on the Washougal Safe Board. 

Pat also volunteers at Hathaway Elementary School each week where she helps teach reading and Spanish.  And, according to her husband, she does all of these things for one simple reason. Her love of this community. 

2023 Businessperson of the Year: Chris Dierickx, Straubs Funeral Home  

As the owner of Straubs Funeral home in Camas, Washington, Chris Dierickx has been a member of this community for over 26 years. Dierickx has helped thousands of families during what is one of the the hardest times in their lives. He makes himself available all hours of the day and night. He is genuinely caring and extremely compassionate. In his service, Dierickx wears many hats, including,  a shoulder to cry on, guide, rock and a friend to those in need. 

The C-W Chamber received a record number nominations for Chris to be named Businessperson of the Year for 2023. 

“It is a clear testament to his commitment and work in this community,” said Senescu. 

CW Businessperson of the Year Chris Dierickx (right) with CW Chamber Executive Director Jennifer Senescu and Washougal Mayor Dave Stuebe.

Educators of the Year: 

CCMS Science PLC Team at Washougal High School: Ryan Hooser and Patrick Rice

Ryan and Patrick, science teachers at Canyon Creek Middle School, are a high functioning team committed to their collaboration.  They use the instructional materials provided through the Amplify curriculum and supplement with hands-on experiments and activities for their students.  They spend time in each other’s classrooms learning and brainstorming new ideas on how to create engaging lessons for their classes. Their work, and focus on achievement, has resulted in state assessment scores far higher than the state average for science. 

Washougal Educators of the Year Ryan Hooser and Patrick Rice with WSD Superintendent Mary Templeton.

2023 Camas Educators of the Year: Stephanie Eakins and Whitney Patton

Stephanie Eakins and Whitney Patton came together in the Fall of 2021 to restructure and redesign the Adult Transition Program at Camas High School. They work with students aged 18-21 served by Individualized Educational Plans in the newly named Adult Transition Training Center (A.T.T.C.) housed at The Heights Learning Center. Although there may be teams that have worked together for a longer length of time, there is no team more committed to providing a positive and exceptional experience for their students. In the short time they have worked together, they have been able to impact a large number of students and are directly responsible for many of the successes that these young adults have achieved. 

Together they are able to motivate and encourage students who would otherwise feel lost within the constraints of the regular curriculum. They work hard at establishing a strong rapport with each individual and their families. Each can always be found going the extra mile that can make a difference for these students. Eakins and Patton both promote community access for their students and work hard to facilitate opportunities that allow them to learn real-world applicable skills that will support them as they move beyond a high school setting. 

Eakins and Patton truly believe in the concept of “firm goals, flexible means” as they continually improvise and modify for their students. They see and serve all students and families as they ready them for the transition into the world beyond the public school system. 

Camas Educators of the Year Stephanie Eakins and Whitney Patton.

2023 Camas High School Scholarship Recipient Olivia Brotherton  

Brotherton will be attending Oregon State University this fall where she plans on studying biology while she works toward becoming a veterinarian. At Camas High School, she is on The National Honor Society and is involved with the CHS Choir. Brotherton has volunteered with multiple local organizations including Buddy and Food Box Builder. She is involved with St. Joseph’s Church and has served as a Vacation Bible School Counselor. She has also served as an Equestrian Camp Counselor at Cantera Equestrian. Brotherton plans on doing an internship with Next-Vet this summer. 

2023 Washougal High School College Scholarship Recipient Carter Nichols

Nichols will be attending Eastern Washington University this Fall where he plans on studying nursing or pre-med. Three years ago, Nichols began as a volunteer at Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital. He spent the summer of 2021 completing a volunteer internship program where he spent 72 hours assisting with discharges, delivering meals and checking in visitors. Since Nichols turned 16, he has been a caregiver in the memory care unit at Touchmark. 

Nichols began taking health classes at Cascadia Technical Academy his junior year. He says that is what truly sparked his interest in the medical field. It’s also where he learned that caregivers must be good listeners and empathetic conversationalists. 

Nichols is one of five siblings. His mother is a social worker and his father is a Firefighter/paramedic. 

CW Scholarship recipients Olivia Brotherton and Carter Nichols.

1 reply
  1. Marc Davis
    Marc Davis says:

    Love this article.

    I greatly admire Pat Suggs who has a heart of gold, as well as a fantastic husband and wonderful girls.

    I did not know she is involved in the Drug Take Back program as well as all she has done for local schools and her church.


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