By Melinda Munson

Pete Griffard brought his wife, Donna Griffard, to Skaguay Depot & Books Dec. 9 on an errand. It was apparent when she stepped inside that she’d been bamboozled.

Present was bookstore owner Jeff Brady, who presides over the Helen B. Clark Award for Skagway Community Service. The Skagway News was already live streaming Donna’s reaction and friends had their cameras out.

“I should have prepared a speech,” Donna said, looking slightly abashed.

Brady named Donna the 36th winner of the annual community service award, noting she had “received several nominations over the past few years.”

President of the Skagway Arts Council, Donna facilitated the visits of multiple artists to Skagway, from Geppetto’s Junkyard puppet show (Haines) to international best-selling humorist David Sedaris. Each production requires hours of grant writing, emails, phone calls and attention to performers when they arrive in town.

Donna is also dedicated to local artists.

“She once drove a piano tuner from Juneau around to every home that needed a piano tuned,” Brady said.

Donna is a founding member of the Paws and Claws Animal Shelter, having served on its board and helped it attain non-profit status. She started You Say Tomato, bringing organic food and increased grocery options to Skagway.

The energetic multi-tasker has served on the Yuletide Committee and been an election official. She currently organizes pickleball games at the recreation center. Donna and Pete help spearhead the Presbyterian Church pumpkin patch sale to raise money for Senior Services. 

“She did a lot of this while fighting off cancer,” Brady said. “And she has cared for others.” For example, last year when a community member experienced serious health problems, Griffard flew to Seattle to assist with doctor appointments and spent hours on the phone with insurance and doctors.

“Thank you, Donna, for all the good you have done to make Skagway a better place to live and love,” said Wendy Anderson, who nominated Donna for the award.