Kawerak is proud to announce Charles Punguk and Ashley Crowe as the winners of the Matthew Iya and Employee of the Year awards respectively.

The Matthew Iya award is given out annually in memory of Matthew Iya. Matthew was a Kawerak employee who exemplified hard work and a positive attitude. He brought a sense of fun and camaraderie to the workplace. Nominations are collected from staff to give this prestigious award to an employee that exemplify the same qualities and can be described as professional, pleasant, kind, creative, fun, organized, and more.

Rebecca Callahan and group nominated Charles Punguk, the Head Start Assistant Cook/Janitor. They stated, “There are a few people that would be well deserving of this annual award, but one employee who has not received much acknowledgment while providing service with a smile is Charles Punguk. He always smiles even in the most stressful situations, such as being asked to do tasks not normally assigned to him. He is the first face you see when walking in our building, and he greets all parents and staff with nod and smile. He can sometimes be found in the kitchen washing dishes, drilling holes to secure student cubbies, cleaning walk ways to keep them safe, staying extra hours to assist with moving heavy items and cleaning up after emergencies. Charles was a solid rock during our two recent evacuations, and he kept others calm while providing evacuation guidance to ensure all were out safely. It may be his duty to be the last man out, but even before he dawned the Fire Watch hat he was focused on building safety. Charles works smarter and harder, and shows a high level of integrity when having to adjust his day to fit the needs of our program. He has been above and beyond flexible in his work hours to accommodate last minute emergencies or covering other positions when needed. My favorite memory is watching him put together new toys for the classroom children. Charles is known to improve group morale when everyone else is feeling pretty stressed, like when our whole program and 5 classrooms moved to a temporary location. During that time, one of the most counted on employees was Charles. He worked extra hours to hang cubbies, clean classrooms, and assisting with moving all the oversized items so that the move could stay on schedule. In closing, many of the Head Start/Early Head Start- Child Care employees are grateful that Charles continues to be part of the team, and super proud to share with all of Kawerak our hidden gem, Charles.

Among the list of nominees sent to all staff, Charles was earned the most votes to receive the Matthew Iya award. He will receive a plaque, a certificate good for two Alaska Airlines saver tickets (25,000 miles each), and a check for $250 and an expression of gratitude for his service and spirit at Kawerak.

Ashley Crowe was nominated and selected by the Employee of the Month Committee for Employee of the Month in August. Nominations are collected each months for employees who did an outstanding job that month, took initiative to do something beyond his/her job, or completed a task that greatly surpassed everyone’s expectations.

Krystal Hensley nominated Ashley for August because she is reliable, flexed her schedule to cover for open positions, taken on the task of hiring staff, covering for other staff in the classroom to ensure smooth and effective service, exemplified excellent communication, identified training needs and gaps for staff, and made sure the Head Start/Early Head Start families needs are met. For this Employee of the Month (EOM) award Ashley received a certificate, check for $200 and a Kawerak EOM bag.

All Employees of the Month are then sent to all staff to vote on who should be selected as Employee of the Year. Ashely was selected for this award to receive a plaque, a check for $250 and two saver tickets on Alaska Airlines.

We are proud and appreciate all the hard work of all our employees.


2018 Employees of the Month

  • Tanya Wongittilin, December 2017
  • Nina Hanebuth, January 2018
  • Krystal Hensley, February 2018
  • Kirstie Ione, March 2018
  • Dianne Okleasik, April 2018
  • Vanessa Johnson, April 2018
  • Ian Foster, May 2018
  • Aubrey Hasick-Cooper, June 2018
  • Mariah Morgan, June 2018
  • Mary David, July 2018
  • Ashley Crowe, August 2018
  • Linda Hildreth, September 2018
  • Kendra Nichols-Takak, October 2018
  • Rhonda West, October 2018
  • Pamela Cushman, November 2018

Nominees for Matthew Iya 2018

  • Frances Ozenna
  • Gussie Olanna
  • Kendra Nichols-Takak
  • Joleen Oleson
  • Charles Punguk
  • Traci McGarry