Maple leaves mean more to the community of Maple Valley than most — golden maple leaves to be exact.
Brett Habenicht was awarded the Golden Maple Leaf Award — Citizen of the Year — during the May 28 Special City Council Meeting.
“I was totally surprised by that,” Habenicht said in a phone interview. “I was pretty embarrassed, at first. I mean I don’t do well up front like that, I like being behind the scenes a little more. But then I think as I was listening to the proclamation, I was just overcome with gratitude and thankful that I get to work with such amazing people.”
Habenicht has lived in Maple Valley his entire life and is a fifth generation Habenicht.
Maple Valley Mayor Sean Kelly said Habenicht was honored with the Golden Maple Leaf Award because of all his community involvement.
To be considered for the Golden Maple Leaf Award the city council looks for residents who have gone above and beyond their normal calls of duty and someone who is involved with several organizations within the community as well.
Habenicht was one of those people who went above and beyond this year.
While his primary source of income is through is coffee business, Java Java Coffee, Kelly said he has been involved with many other organizations in the city.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of service and charity work for most of that time, especially my adult life and it started years ago when I was a Maple Valley rotarian and did a lot of service and volunteer work with Maple Valley Rotary. (I) actually became club president there and that really kind of set the motion, really the passion I have for just serving my community. If I’m going to live, I want to do what I can do to try and make it a better place to live,” Habenicht said.
After 15 years of being involved with rotary, Habenicht said he got involved with the Maple Valley-Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce, and is now the president.
He said he loves working with the small business community.
A big project Habenicht has been working on that put him up for this award is the Greater Maple Valley Veterans Memorial.
Habenicht and his friend Storm McNeil, who passed away in 2018, started the Greater Maple Valley Veterans Foundation, which led to the building of the memorial at the Maple Valley Community Center.
Kelly said Habenicht was even able to go over to Olympia and get $105,000 as state capital budget for the memorial.
While the award has Habenicht’s name on it, Kelly said it’s an award for his whole family because they are all extremely involved in the Maple Valley community.
“They are one of the reasons why Maple Valley is such a great place to live,” Kelly said.
Habenicht’s wife, Brenda, has been on the Maple Valley Food Bank Board for over 20 years and his daughter is also very involved with the food bank as well.
”I just really love where we live. I love the natural environmental aspect of where we live. I love to fish and I love the outdoors, so there’s really no better place to be. It’s wonderful. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else,” Habenicht said.