Since 2010 the Edmonds Pétanque Club has been doing something right. At least that's what the Edmonds Washington chapter of the Pacific Northwest Kiwanis thinks. In its 23-year history they have only awarded their highest accolade, Citizen of the Year, to a group two times. This year the Edmonds Pétanque Club became the second organizational recipient of that prestigious award. What does it take to be nominated? In general the Kiwanis are looking for citizens who are trying to make their community a better place. Specifically they are looking for people who are endeavoring to: privilege humanity and the spiritual over the material, live the Golden Rule, encourage exemplary standards in social and professional contacts, evolve a more enlightened model of citizenship, provide a crucible for the formation of friendship and community, and maintain the conditions that facilitate the increase of “justice, patriotism, and goodwill.”
Back in 2010 Michelle Martin, a native of Lyon, France, got eight friends together to start the club. Today there are 85 members, most of whom play regularly each week, and the club continues to grow. Michelle and fellow founding member Chris Guitton had the foresight to seek certified nonprofit status as a 501(c)3 corporation. Since then they have not only been doing good, they have also done well for a number of charities.
Every summer the EPC partners in a six-week children's program with the Boys and Girls Club. Each participant earns a certificate. EPC members teach pétanque to students visiting from Edmonds's sister city of Hekinan, Japan. Every summer boulistes in the Northwest Region have looked forward to two special Edmonds events: the Bastille Day Tournament and the Food Bank Tournament. Since 2011 the EPC has contributed over $22,500 to the Food Bank. Local businesses contribute most of the prizes. Among them EPC member PBS travel guru Rick Steves, who often donates signed books and DVDs.
Since winning the 2016 Citizen of the Year award, not much has changed for the EPC. The gang still plays almost every day. They had another successful summer program with the kids from the Boys and Girls Club. The Bastille Day Tournament was another well-attended success and the Food Bank Tournament garnered more than $4,500. But they also were honored at a Chamber of Commerce Luncheon, received a plaque that hangs at the Edmonds Museum, and were special guests at the annual Edmonds Fourth of July parade. All of this was a bit of a surprise to Edmonds President Michelle Martin, who modestly asserts: “I was thrilled about it and it is a great honor for the members who make EPC so exceptional…I did not realize that a simple French game would help or change life to many people. It is so rewarding to help the community, the Edmonds Food Bank, and the kids. We have players of all ages that discover that new activity.” Not bad for a “simple game.”