Thank you, Federal Way, for letting me tell your stories

This is my final week with the Federal Way Mirror.

Usually, when a new reporter joins the staff, they write a column introducing themselves to the community. I never did this back when I joined the Mirror in August 2018. But I think that’s fitting.

I never needed an introduction to Federal Way because I grew up here. This is my hometown.

After five years of reporting for my hometown newspaper, I’ve decided to take on a new opportunity. This is my final week with the Federal Way Mirror.

I’d like to send Federal Way and its residents a simple message: Thank you.

Thank you for trusting me to tell your stories and inviting me to experience a piece of your world. This job allowed me to attend centenarian birthday parties, listen as people grieved their lost loved ones, put out fires (both literally and figuratively) and so much more.

In all of these experiences, people are always the most important part of any story.

Thank you for opening up your homes and living rooms and businesses for me to visit, sit down with you and talk. Thank you for filling me in on the latest gossip from the rumor mill and giving me many odd stories to laugh about later.

Thank you for believing in local journalism and your local newspaper.

It’s been quite the journey from initially being hired as a schools/sports reporter to then becoming the only reporter on the Mirror’s staff during the early months of the pandemic to being named assistant editor of our King County newspaper titles two years ago.

Before all of these opportunities though, my incredible editor, Andy Hobbs, interviewed me in July 2018 during which he told me Federal Way is a “news-hoppin’ town!”

I remember thinking — and telling him later — that, with all due respect, I’ve lived here my entire life and have never thought that.

How wrong I was.

Federal Way is full of breaking news, scandals and controversies, heartfelt and wonderous stories about the love that flows between community members. Federal Way is full of people who care deeply and want to better their community by taking action.

There is no shortage of news — except for maybe the announcement of the first brewery opening in town (it’s not and there are no plans for this yet, but a woman can dream).

When we were in the early stages of the pandemic, we didn’t know if the Mirror could survive the devastating business impacts. We stopped printing our newspaper for two months and provided news only online. I am so proud of the work we did in those months to keep people informed.

Given that the Mirror is a source of reflection, there are a few things I have learned:

• People are kinder than you believe. People can be crueler than you know.

• You cannot report on life from your office chair. You must go out and experience it.

• When someone says “There’s no story here,” it means there is without a doubt, absolutely a story needing to be told.

• You will always need the skill of cold-calling people. No, the last-second fear doesn’t go away.

• Strike up conversations with strangers around you. It’s cliche, sure, but everyone has a story and all stories are worth hearing.

• Nothing stays the same, not in the news cycle, not in your own life.

With that, I am signing off from the Mirror with lots of love.

A coworker once told me the scariest thing a journalist can have is a blank page. I’m leaving with more than 257 weeks’ worth of inked memories, stories and good news to share about Federal Way.

From the bottom of my heart and from the tip of my pen, thank you.

(And seriously, will someone please call me when the first brewery does open up in Federal Way?)