As I get ready for my next big step in life, I ponder to myself on how I turned an art degree from the University of Washington into a legals clerk/reporting/layout (you-name-it) position at The Vidette. I have come to the conclusion that everything happens for a reason.
Five years ago, on April 3, I began my first day on the job at The Vidette. The job couldn’t have come at a more crucial time in my life. Newly divorced at 28 and unemployed with a baby boy that had just turned one, I needed to support myself and my family.
In an interview with three people, then-editor Dee Anne Shaw, Joyce Powers and Debi Meredith, I somehow convinced them that I was a good fit for the job and I’d do my best at anything I did.
And I did. I discovered that my lifetime love of reading gave me a solid foundation in the proofreading skills the job required. As I became comfortable with my position as the legals clerk, I asked for more. A lot more. I wanted to write and take pictures too. Just five months after I was hired, Shaw gave me my first writing assignment — a short piece on a fundraiser the United Way of Grays Harbor was doing. It even made the bottom of the front page. The next week, my story on Montesano’s Harvest Celebration made the top of the page.
I learned a lot. I also made a lot of mistakes. My most memorable one was the story on Dolores Cavanah’s garden tour (‘Secret’ garden revealed, Sept. 17, 2009). I forgot to include the location of the garden in the story. While I joked at how secret this garden really was, I felt really bad and used it as a learning tool for future writing. I also learned how public these mistakes are.
The same story won my first award with the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association. I won first place for the best feature photo.
One of my favorite stories I did was on Alan Rammer, marine biologist, who won the National Marine Educator of the Year award in 2012 (July 26, 2012). He is a man of such integrity, knowledge and humor — I could have spent days interviewing him and never have tired.
The saddest story I wrote was the diagnosis of Tabitha Kowal’s stage-4 cancer, and her subsequent death (Jan. 12 and Dec. 20, 2012). I didn’t know her personally, but even before her illness it was evident she had touched the lives of so many people.
I loved my job so much. It went above my expectations and incorporated all of my favorite things in one job — reading, writing, learning, challenges, design, photography, meeting new people and above all, a wonderful group of people to work with.
While working at The Vidette, I have felt fulfilled except for one small thing nagging at the back of my head. I have been successful in all of my goals I’ve set for myself and I am happy at where I am in my life. But yet, I’d be remiss if I didn’t do something to give back to those who made it possible for me to be where I am. I need to also use my lifelong experience as a successful woman who is also deaf/hard of hearing (whatever floats your boat).
With my new job at Coastal Community Action Program, I will be able to do just that. As an employment consultant for the disabled, I’ll be able to continue to write, meet new people, be involved in the community and more importantly — use my God-given (dis) ability.
I will take with me what I’ve learned on the job at The Vidette — from the job itself, the people I’ve worked with and the people I’ve met:
• Be honest and trustworthy
• Be kind and empathetic
• Don’t burn your bridges
• Stand up for yourself and others
• There is more than one way to do things
• The difference between facts and gossip
• Document everything
Some of these I’ve learned the hard way and some of these I’ve learned by watching my co-workers.
I thank all of you who have opened your doors to me and shared your stories. I also thank all those who have taught me all of my skills on this journey called life.