Press Release
Public Health


APOYO Named as 2019 Public Health Champion

Kittitas County, WA - 04/05/2019 - The Kittitas County Board of Health Advisory Committee (BOHAC) is pleased to announce that the APOYO Food Bank will be awarded the 2019 annual Kittitas County Public Health Champion Award. The award is in recognition of their work to provide food, recycled clothing and furniture to the community. The award will be presented during the Kittitas County Board of Health meeting on Thursday, April 18, 2019, at 10:00 am in the Commissioners’ Auditorium of the Kittitas County Courthouse. The meeting, located at 205 W 5th Avenue, Ellensburg is open to the public.

APOYO (Allied People Offering Year-Round Outreach) provides culturally sensitive food, clothing, household items, and other outreach services to a diverse population. Open twice a week, there is no restriction on the number of times clients can take food. Volunteers have consistently extended hours as needed. No personal data is collected and no one is turned away. In emergency situations, volunteers deliver food. APOYO also offers opportunities to volunteer, earn community service hours, and to interact with diverse populations in an educational setting.
“We felt that APOYO deserved this year’s award because of their ongoing dedication to serving those in need,” according to Andrew Lyons, BOHAC Chair. “They are an all-volunteer organization that has continuously gone the extra mile to ensure people receive the most basic elements of public health – food and clothing.”
Six other nominations for the award were received this year, and BOHAC wants to recognize the other nominees for their contributions to the health of the community:

  • Kittitas County “A-Team” for their work in identifying the gaps in health services and working to bridge those gaps.
  • Gloria Wright for supporting breastfeeding families and local support group, Nurturing Naturally. 
  • Dr. John Merrill-Steskal for providing family medicine services for 25 years and being a health advocate in the community.
  • Ellensburg Farmers Market for their commitment to provide locally grown fresh farm products, foods and handmade arts and crafts.
  • Kittitas County Early Learning Coalition for their contributions to children’s education.
  • Ellensburg Adult Activity Center for providing a variety of recreational and life-enrichment activities for seniors.
The Kittitas County Public Health Champion Award recognizes individuals, groups, or organizations that make significant contributions to the health of Kittitas County. The recipient receives a $500 award to be used for current or future projects that contribute to the health of Kittitas County. The award is funded by a generous donation from former Kittitas County Health Officer Jim Gale.
This year, BOHAC has also decided to honor Dr. John Merrill-Steskal with a special, non-monetary honorary public health champion award for his many years of dedication to the health of Kittitas County. Dr. Merrill-Steskal has been nominated several years in a row, and it is clear the residents of Kittitas
 County see the positive impact he has had over his 25 years of service to the community. This award will also be given on April, 18th 2019.
“We were unanimous in our decision that Dr. John Merrill-Steskal was worthy of an honorary public health champion award. He has volunteered countless hours outside of his regular practice for the betterment of our community through public health education and implementing systems that improve health outcomes,” stated Andrew Lyon.
The mission of BOHAC is to provide advisory feedback and formal recommendations, to both the Board of Health and the Public Health Department of Kittitas County, related to policy, funding, initiatives, and emergent needs, in support of the goals and mission of the Kittitas County Public Health Department.  If you are interested in donating to the Annual Kittitas County Public Health Champion Award fund, please contact Dr. Bob Davis, BOHAC Treasurer, at
For more information regarding BOHAC or the Public Health Champion Award, please contact the Kittitas County Public Health Department at (509) 962-7515.

Kittitas County, from the Cascades to the Columbia, and online at


Contact: Kasey Knutson, Public Information Officer, 509-962-7515