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White River Community Heroes Unite

I’d like to introduce you to some of my heroes. They don’t wear capes and they’re not all first responders. But they are the epitome of strength and resilience, which is what will help neighborhoods regenerate from COVID-19. These heroes are part of rural communities, who take matters into their own hands without a lot of attention or resources.


A community of focus joins forces to improve access to resources

White River includes the communities of Buckley, Wilkeson, Carbonado, South Prairie, Prairie Ridge and part of Bonney Lake. Meet their heroes. Members of the White River Partnership include Mary Beth Holmes, Steve Leifsen, Danielle Page, Sue Hart, and Jan and Gary Burley. Some of them paid, and some who volunteer their time. All of them with a big heart for their community.

Through a health equity strategy called Communities of Focus, the Health Department partners with White River, and 5 other neighborhoods with health inequities. These complex factors impact how long and how well people live across Pierce County. The White River Partnership is a group of leaders dedicated to monthly meetings. They interview residents, develop priorities, and implement strategies to improve their chief aim: access to resources.

Their outcomes?

  • Improved mental health service coordination.
  • Added Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) families to the weekend food backpack program.
  • Developed plans to build a community garden for seniors and a disc golf course in Prairie Ridge.
  • Helping residents develop leadership skills.

And what did they do when COVID-19 hit?

They took it upon themselves to meet weekly, rather than monthly. They didn’t wait for outside help to mobilize efforts, they did what they do best by binding together in times of need. Greater Tacoma Community Foundation awarded them a $30,000 grant to support food security and strategies to count people through the 2020 census. They are my heroes.

Want to learn more? Consider joining the White River Community of Focus Fridays at noon for some inspiration and to learn first-hand how rural communities get things done. Email us at

For more information on COVID-19, visit