Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Friday, September 9, 2011

Proud To Be a Public Servant

Governor Chris Gregoire

In July 2006 Governor Chris Gregoire appointed me as a public member to the Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Commission. As a member of MQAC, I'm also a part time employee of the Department of Health, hence a government employee once again.

My first husband, a career police officer, used to say his entire family "fed at the public trough." His parents were nurses at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Downey, CA for over 30 years each. He himself retired after 35 years of service with the Long Beach Police Department.

First as a school teacher, and then as a social worker, I worked for municipal governments, the city of Long Beach, CA, and the county of Los Angeles. As a Peace Corps Volunteer and Peace Corps health specialist at The Center for Field Assistance in Washington DC, I worked for the federal government. As adolescent and school health coordinator I worked for the Arkansas State Department of Health. Now I'm an employee of the Washington State Department of Health.

So when people rant about fat cat bureaucrats, well, I've fed at the public trough much of my life, on the home front and overseas, here, there and everywhere. I've never become rich, but I've always earned a living...and some of those earnings, in Peace Corps and AmeriCorps*VISTA, were well below the federal minimum wage. Nonetheless, I've tried my best to earn every cent, whatever my salary was, and have always remembered my real employer was not a fellow bureaucrat, but my fellow taxpayers, citizens just like me.

Today, as a state employee, I received a thoughtful thank you from Governor Gregoire which I'd like to share. It brings back my feeling of pride over a lifetime of community service, and gratitude for having had the opportunity to serve. Here's the note that Chris Gregoire sent to all Washington State employees.

Dear Colleague:

We all stood still on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 — 10 years ago this Sunday. In many ways we’re still catching our breath.

We awakened Sept. 12 somber and scared. Yet we also awakened to a new calling. We rose to a greater good, we vowed to rebuild New York, we pledged to travel again. We stuck together and felt closer than perhaps any other time in recent history. Countries around the globe rushed to our side as the world shared in our loss. For some, that newfound feeling of commitment and purpose changed over time. We settled back into our old habits, our old prejudices. The cloud of two wars, the ever-changing presentation of facts to the American public, the use of 9-11 for political gain changed what that day meant and what it should mean.

Today, 10 years later, we can change it back.

First, realize that the world is a much different place than it was. The nature of global threats, both natural and human caused, has intensified. Our best response lies in preparation. In the event of a large- scale emergency, it’s important to prepare yourself and your family to survive unassisted for 72 hours. While governments work hard to mobilize in advance of and during disasters, the events of 9-11, the Japanese tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and recently, Hurricane Irene have proven that the more prepared you and your family are, the more quickly recovery will take hold.

Second, know the neighbors in your area who may need help or special assistance during and after a disaster. An elderly person or the family with small kids may require checking in on or a little extra help.

Third, become involved in your community. Give back to local organizations, read at a school, organize a neighborhood event. Explore another culture, introduce yourself to a stranger. Realize that our strength lies in our diversity. Remember that feeling of civic responsibility you had 10 years ago — wondering what you could do to help your fellow Americans 3,000 miles away — and act on that now. The stronger your resolve, the stronger our communities become.

Finally, to repeat a simple message shared by our federal counterparts, “If you see something, say something.”

As state employees, each of you plays an important role in assuring the safety and security of our citizens: from the Department of Health, where we have stepped up monitoring and tracking of potential health hazards, to the Military Department, which has admirably served overseas as well as provided homeland security and domestic preparedness on the home front, to the State Patrol, which monitors our highways and ferries. The collective work and collaboration of every agency has not gone unnoticed in the past decade.

Our nation’s biggest weakness lies not in what the terrorists can do to us or what the economic markets may bear, but in our increasing divisiveness, lack of civics and general isolation. Today, take a moment to remember those who perished 10 years ago. Be proud of our country, and be just as proud of your neighborhood, your community and your service to the state.

Thank you for that service.


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