The woman handed me a small flag and I learned her name was Charlie.
Every year she attends the South King Fire and Rescue’s memorial event to remember those whose lives were lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. She explained her volunteerism as an advocate for veterans and how her group helped secure housing for homeless veterans in Federal Way.
As I listened during the remembrance event on Tuesday to SKFR Chaplain Julie Westfall describe how the first responders of 9/11 acted like warriors, I realized we have true champions here at home too like Charlie.
It’s people like her who I get to meet every day that remind me why I am passionate about being a journalist.
And it’s also events like the 9/11 memorial — which brought men and women in uniform, elected officials, parents, children and other residents together — that demonstrate the power of community.
This is what brought me back to Federal Way.
Some of you may recall that I was previously editor of the Mirror from 2012-2015. I left to manage seven of Sound Publishing’s Eastside newspapers as regional editor of the Bellevue Reporter, Bothell-Kenmore Reporter, Issaquah-Sammamish Reporter, Kirkland Reporter, Mercer Island Reporter, Redmond Reporter and Snoqualmie Valley Record. I am proud of the work I accomplished with those publications as I helped strengthen the community news we deliver to those areas.
But I missed getting out into the community more and meeting with people. And I missed Federal Way — a special place that I consider home.
I live in Auburn with my husband, Miguel, and over the years we have frequented Federal Way with our five children to play at Celebration Park, Wild Waves and Pattison’s West; catch a movie at The Commons; eat at Puerto Vallarta Mexican Restaurant and Jimmy Mac’s; and stroll PowellsWood and the Rhododendron Species Botanical gardens.
I have missed the many people who I have had the opportunity to meet in Federal Way. I have followed several of you on Facebook — Betty Taylor, Bruce Honda, Ed Streit, Kay Miller and my fellow colleagues Andy Hobbs, Cindy Ducich, Linda Staples and her quirky cat Kooki, among others.
I even received friend requests after I left Federal Way from some of the city’s elected officials — a good indication for any editor who strives to maintain balanced news with the city and beyond.
I have also received a warm welcome already from many of you, including Mayor Jim Ferrell, police Chief Andy Hwang, SKFR Capt. Jeff Bellinghausen and others.
A bit about myself for those who are new to Federal Way: I am an upstate New York transplant and have lived in the Pacific Northwest for over 20 years. I have three adult children, including my son who is serving as a medical corpsman in the United States Navy, and two young daughters.
I earned two bachelor’s degrees in communications and English from the University of Washington and have been an editor with Sound Publishing for over 12 years.
My passion is this community that I look forward to serving — and here’s how you can help. We want to know more about you and the unique residents who live, work and play in Federal Way. We recognize a Citizen of the Month, from unsung heroes to unique residents of all ages and walks of life, and that could be you or your neighbor. Do you know someone who has done something kind for someone in the community who you’d like us to recognize? A student who has sold lemonade to help a friend going through cancer treatments, a teacher who ensures that each child in their class has books to read for the summer or a retired volunteer who picks up trash alongside their street every morning? Please nominate someone so we can share their efforts with the community.
We also highlight exceptional people with our regular Faces of Federal Way feature. We want to hear from you.
We also want to tell your stories. Please let us know if you are doing something unique for the community, if you own a business that is new or providing a rare service or if there is an issue that is important to you that you would like us to report on.
Contact me at email@example.com or 253-292-2309, ext. 55002.
It is ultimately the people of Federal Way who make this community special and we look forward to celebrating that.