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WA-Based Organization Honored for Clearing Mines in Vietnam


Thursday, December 3, 2020   

SEATTLE -- The founder of a Washington state-based organization that clears mines in Vietnam has been selected for AARP's Purpose Prize.

Jerilyn Brusseau, founder of PeaceTrees Vietnam, began the organization 25 years ago and said the reason for starting the effort began even further back, in 1969 when her brother was shot down and killed while trying to save the life of a fellow pilot in the Vietnam War.

"It just became clear as a bell to me that someday, ordinary American families like my family must find a way to reach out to Vietnamese people to begin building bridges of trust and understanding by honoring the deepest losses to both families," Brusseau explained.

Brusseau, who is a resident of Bainbridge Island, has been selected as a 2021 Purpose Prize Fellow, and will receive $5,000 dollars for her organization and a year of mentorship.

Purpose Prize honorees are being recognized at a free virtual event at 4:00 p.m. today.

Brusseau said PeaceTrees Vietnam has grown over the past two-and-a-half decades.

"We now have more than 140 Vietnamese highly certified and accredited de-miners who clear landmines and bombs Monday through Friday every week," Brusseau outlined. "They clear between 18 and 20 pieces of live ordnance per day in areas that are populated by families and little children."

The Purpose Prize recognizes people 50 and older who are using their knowledge and life experiences to solve tough social issues. Brusseau said the whole team at PeaceTrees Vietnam is grateful.

"We are all incredibly honored to have been selected as an honoree for the Purpose Prize winners," Brusseau concluded.

AARP also is recognizing the organizations Sandy Hook Promise, Bronx Children's Museum, Brilliant Detroit and actress Glenn Close for her charity Bring Change to Mind, which works to reduce the stigma around mental illness.

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