West Seattle is lucky to have the Luckies
Scott and Tara Luckie are what you might call a power couple of public service.
Scott spends his days as an officer with the Seattle Police Department’s Southwest Precinct while Tara works endlessly helping the peninsula’s low income families as executive director of the West Seattle Helpline.
They are a young couple (Scott is 27 and Tara is 29), married six months now, who have devoted their lives to helping our community.
Their paths to their chosen professions are what you might expect: Scott’s dad is an SPD Officer and Tara, while attending the University of Washington, became deeply entrenched in social justice issues and found her calling in non-profit work.
They met eight years ago while Tara was attending U-Dub and Scott was working as a scuba instructor for a North Seattle dive shop. Tara came in one day for scuba lessons, took a liking to the instructor, and left with a new person in her life named Scott.
“I’ve always wanted to be a police officer,” Scott said, “and I’ve always talked about doing it and (Tara) was the one who pushed me to quit working at the scuba shop and actually apply (for a position with SPD).”
It was a good move on Tara’s part, as Scott has proven himself an important asset for the police force and West Seattle community since becoming an officer four years ago. In 2012, he was named one of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild’s Officers of the Year and was given an SPD Medal of Courage for his work in bringing an end to Café Racer shooter Ian Stawicki’s rampage. He was also featured on the front page of a New York Times article about SPD using Twitter to communicate with the public.
The accolades are mounting up, but Scott focuses on the day-to-day work as his main source of pride.
“I do love the work,” he said. “ ... when you have people in a time of crisis, or when they are having a bad day, and you are able to work with them to bring a resolution to their problems, hopefully in a good way.”
In an ideal situation, Scott said, “When we get there (to an aid call), they are upset and possibly crying, and when we leave they are laughing and joking with you.”
“He is very humble,” Tara said of her husband, “but he is a very proactive police officer. He works very hard to make sure a resolution comes to people, he puts a lot of hours in and goes the extra mile … and he loves what he does, he’s very passionate about it and it comes through in his work.”
The path leading Tara to the Helpline also brought her back to West Seattle, where she lived for the majority of her upbringing.
“I’ve always been really involved with non-profit work and it just seemed like a natural fit because I love West Seattle,” she said. “I know that we are going to raise our kids here and it has a special place in my heart because it has that small town feel in a big city.”
Before coming to the Helpline, she spent time with Teach for America in South Central L.A., at Seattle Works and other non-profits. She got her masters in non-profit leadership just before taking the West Seattle job, and is currently working on her doctorate in educational leadership. She is also on the West Seattle Rotary board.
The West Seattle Helpline aids the working poor of our community through a number of services to help those who are struggling paycheck to paycheck, dealing with unexpected unemployment, or enduring unexpected events like a fire. Tara said her ranks are made up of an amazing group of volunteers who all reside in West Seattle.
On the day we spoke, after dropping off clothing donations to the Clothesline in Admiral, Tara spent a good chunk of it helping a family who had just lost everything in an apartment fire, including their identification. As someone who had all of her basic needs met growing up, she said it’s important to her to help others get back on track towards prosperity.
“I have actually ran into quite a few people in the past who were helped by the West Seattle Helpline and are now paying it forward, and I don’t think you will see that in other communities,” she said.
From Scott’s perspective, Tara’s work ethic puts his to shame.
“She just puts so much into it that sometimes I’m amazed at how much energy she has because I’d be completely drained if I worked as much as she does,” he said. “She is always thinking, ‘What can I do next to better my work, to help West Seattle?’”
The Luckies recently purchased a home in West Seattle after renting on Alki for a number of years, putting down their roots and hoping to be here for a long time to come.
“One thing I’ve noticed from being part of the West Seattle Helpline is people really do care about their neighbors, they care about their community, and there is a strong sense of pride in West Seattle,” Tara said of her love for the Westside.
“It has a small town feel, but with the big city protection,” Scott said. “We have the fire department, the police department; you have all the amenities of a big city but it’s really an isolated small town over here with the bridge and water and everything.”
So what’s next for a young, newly married couple who just bought a house?
“We are going to have a baby in July, a baby boy,” Tara said with excitement in her voice.
Maybe we can look forward to the next generation of Luckies watching out for us just like Mom and Dad.