Tigard honors Allison Burke as champion volunteer

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Rose Festival princess and community volunteer Allison Burke has been named the winner of the Tigard Area Chamber of Commerces Jim Nicoli Youth Volunter award as part of the 2013 Shining Stars awards. The last few weeks have been quite interesting for Allison Burke.

First, the 17-year-old Tigard High School senior was named West Metro Rose Festival princess for Portland’s Westside, representing all of Washington County. Then, a few weeks later, the Tigard Area Chamber of Commerce named her the youth volunteer of the year.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” Burke said. “But it’s been wonderful.”

The chamber’s annual Shining Stars award ceremony next week honors a handful of local volunteers who dedicate themselves to improving the community.

An aspiring nurse, Burke is involved in a host of activities at Tigard High School, including National Honor Society, Key Club, Link Crew, Student Advisory Council and Future Business Leaders of America. She is an accomplished violinist, played on the school’s tennis team, participates in her local high school’s theater troupe and is president of the Tigard Youth Advisory Council.

As president of the youth council for the past two years, Burke helps organize community service projects around the city and hosts community projects, including food drives and an outdoor movie series each summer.

“It’s very civic-minded,” Burke said. “We do things to benefit the community.”

The group also serves as the advisory board for the City Council on youth issues. Burke has provided input on developing more community programs and activities throughout the city.

“I wanted to do something bigger than just my school,” she said, recalling how she got started. “A friend mentioned (TYAC) and I thought ‘Why not?’ and it just clicked with me, I really loved it.”

Burke said she loves being able to make a difference in people’s lives.

“We delivered toys and food to families on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it meant so much to them. And, it really touched me,” she said. “I knew I wanted to be part of this organization.”

Burke said she gets her desire to give back from her parents.

“My family has always stressed the importance of volunteering and being a good community member — besides being a good student or a good daughter,” she said. “It comes full circle. Every experience I have ever had giving back has come back to me in such a positive way.”

Giving back to the community has always been an important part of Burke’s life, she said.

“It’s almost contagious, just this giving,” she said. “I knew this is what I wanted to do. It just grew on me, and I loved it.”

Remembering a leader

The youth volunteer award is given in honor of former Tigard Mayor Jim Nicoli, who died in 2000.

“Nicoli’s dedication to the youth of our community made this scholarship a fitting way to honor his name and award a youth in our community who volunteers to make a difference,” said Debi Mollahan, the chamber’s CEO. “Many young people in Tigard are active in volunteer efforts, and it is our pleasure to acknowledge their contributions of dedication, energy and community spirit.”

Mollahan estimates Burke has logged more than 900 hours of community service through her work with the National Honor Society, Tigard Youth Advisory Council and her high school’s thespian troupe.

Despite her numerous commitments, Burke said it was important not to spread yourself too thin.

“Sometimes it is better to realize that within your abilities, everyone has their limits in how much energy and effort they can give to all their interests,” Burke said. “Spreading yourself thin between many activities is usually not worth it and leads to feeling like you’ve let people down — and you are rarely satisfied with all your work. I’ve learned that dedicating yourself to a few things you are really passionate about can give you satisfaction and will not wear you out as easily.”

The Jim Nicoli Youth Volunteer Award is one of several awards handed out by the chamber and the city of Tigard during the annual Shining Stars awards ceremony.

Shining Stars is set for Friday, April 26, at Embassy Suites near Washington Square. For further details, call 503-639-1656 or visit

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