King County residents receive Martin Luther King medal of distinguished service

Recipients include Eastside King County residents

The King County Council awarded nine citizens the Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Distinguished Service on Feb. 27. And for the fourth year of the award, councilmembers awarded individuals in their district who have answered the question by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “What are you doing for others?”

In Bellevue, Pastor Jim McEachran received the medal of distinguished service. McEachran pastored Bellevue’s Saint Andrew’s Lutheran Church for 35 years. The pastor resigned after three decades.

“I’m honored, but it’s not about me,” he said about receiving the medal. “I am here because we are.”

With the help of his congregation, Pastor McEachran helped create Saint Andrew’s Housing Group in 1987 in response to the growing need for affordable housing on the Eastside. What once was Saint Andrew’s Housing Group has grown into Imagine Housing, the Eastside’s leading affordable housing organization.

Imagine Housing develops housing for affordable rental homes in East King County. The organization owns and manages 14 developments located in Kirkland, Bellevue, Issaquah, Mercer Island and Redmond. Imagine Housing serves more than 1,200 people.

Pastor McEchran said they made a risk 30 years ago and opened their first community in Issaquah in 1992, and have grown since.

At the recognition, Councilmember Claudia Balducci of District 6 presented the medal to Pastor McEchran. She said his leadership has helped make a difference in the lives of many residents on the Eastside communities.

“His commitment to putting his faith into action has resulted in a housing organization being built from the group up and now serves hundreds of families,” she said in a press release. “He has inspired and educated generations of community member who live their values and work for the common good.”

In the Valley, Amy Biggs, director of the Snoqualmie Valley Transportation (SVT), was recognized by Councilmember Kathy Lambert of District 3.

“I’m just honored,” Biggs said. “It was very kind of Kathy to even think of me. I’m really honored.”

Biggs joined SVT as director in 2012, when the organization had lost funding due to cutbacks during the Great Recession. Biggs helped to secure the contract with King County Metro Transit.

“In a rural area, transportation is life,” Biggs said. “If you don’t have a car, how do you get around? How do you get to [the] food bank, medicine, doctor or dialysis? Transportation is life in a rural area.”

In order to keep connections in the Valley, Metro contracted with SVT for the first time to provide services in Duvall, Carnation, Fall City, Snoqualmie and North Bend. SVT was the first company to provide door-to-door as well as fixed route transportation, through the contract with Metro’s “Community Connections” program. SVT’S success encouraged Metro to expand its alternative services program.

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