Earlier this year, I wrote a cover story about my own grandfather, Joe Peirone. It was our family’s story and the story of Peirone Produce, but it seemed to take on a universal quality a lot of people could relate to.

The Peirone family story (pronounced “Purr-ohn”) definitely lives on in these pages, as without our grandparents’ example — and startup loan — my brother Jer and I never would have been able to create The Inlander. We learned from their hard work, perseverance and simple desire to do your part for the greater good. Those are lessons that resonate for all of us today.

As the Inland Northwest grew from outpost to metro area, a lot of things had to get done — starting out in the Great Depression, Joe Peirone tackled the task of getting fresh produce to people’s tables, but countless others did their part, and it all added up to the amazing quality of life we all enjoy today.

Or that we all should be able to enjoy.

Yes, there is a lot of need out there. Every year, our Philanthropy Issue celebrates those organizations and individuals who answer the call. We have an amazing class of people here who give of themselves every day for the betterment of the community — in health care, the arts, working with kids, the poor … The list goes on.

The Peirone Prize, founded by Jeanne Peirone McGregor and Jim Peirone to honor their parents, is our family’s way of saying thanks to some of those people.

Our criteria for the prize is that you be making a difference here at a relatively young age (40-ish and younger). There are lots of deserving people of all ages, but we wanted to particularly encourage young people who are choosing a life of service, when that may not always be the most lucrative choice.

We accepted nominations from local leaders in the nonprofit world and came up with 48 great candidates. Philanthropy Editor Leah Sottile, Managing Editor Jacob Fries and I narrowed the batch to 15, and finally settled on our three winners, who you will meet in these pages.

In coming years, as our Peirone Prize endowment grows, we’d like to add more winners or increase the size of the cash prize. This year, each winner will receive $500.

But we want you all to think beyond these three winners, deserving as they are. We need to thank and encourage all those members of our community who give either full- or part-time. We can’t live without them.

So next time you see that neighbor who volunteers at Vanessa Behan, or that cousin who gives to the Shriners Hospital, thank them. Then figure out a way to help them succeed.

That way, we’re all doing our part to make this a great place — just like Joe and Alice Peirone and so many more of our ancestors did before us.

Send your Peirone Prize 2011 nominees or thoughts on this Give Guide section to [email protected].

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About The Author

Ted S. McGregor Jr.

Ted S. McGregor, Jr. grew up in Spokane and attended Gonzaga Prep high school and the University of the Washington. While studying for his Master's in journalism at the University of Missouri, he completed a professional project on starting a weekly newspaper in Spokane. In 1993, he turned that project into reality...