by Heather Pitre
Working at the Washington Health Foundation has been a big part of my life. From 1992 to 1995, I was an employee of the Community Health Access Program, which at that time was part of WHF. I made medical referrals for pregnant women, helped them get connected with medical coverage and services, and enjoyed it a lot. I worked with great people, and learned so much. I moved to Los Angeles for nine years, and when I came back, I worked at WHF again, starting in 2004. It was the beginning of the Healthiest State in the Nation Campaign, and it was exciting to be a part of a growing movement to make Washington the healthiest state in the nation. We developed a set of measures and outcomes , had fun and creative brainstorming meetings, got organizations, schools and individuals to sign up to partner with us in the effort, and had a blast. Part of my work at that time was attending events in the community where we could spread our message, and planning events for our board and partner organizations. We had some fun and creative board retreats at Alderbrook Lodge and Cave B Inn. We had great annual meetings followed by Mariners games at Safeco Field. We had big galas that included wine tasting and auctions at the Marriott Waterfront and Bell Harbor. We had staff lunches, public affairs team meetings, and fantastic conversations over lunch with Don Sloma. We went out after work for happy hour. We took the occasional break in the office to play Name That Tune with our co-workers. We went bowling. We took the ferry and went to Greg’s house in Union for wonderful staff retreats.
Here are a few memories that really stand out for me: we set a goal during our first Governor’s Health Bowl in 2005 of 1 million miles. We had no idea if we could make it, but we watched as Champions around the state logged their miles of physical activity, saw the scoreboard numbers rolling in, and we exceeded it! On that last morning of the Bowl, several of us got to work early, checked the scoreboard, and saw that we beat the goal. We were so excited, we ran around the office and put stickers on everyone’s door and cubicle that said “We did it! One million miles of health!” Shortly after that we held an event at the state capitol, and Governor Gregoire spoke, surrounded by kids from several elementary schools in Olympia that had participated in the Bowl. It was an emotional, inspiring day.
We’ve had amazing interns that have worked with us over the years. This past summer, one in particular really made me laugh with his blog posts. Here is one of my favorites. Thank you Jake! And this fall and winter we had an intern return, and she's written some stellar pieces too. Thank you Hannah!
We would sometimes head over to the roof of the Red Lion Hotel downtown and work from there on sunny summer afternoons. We dubbed this our “satellite office” and got some good things accomplished there, and eventually some complimentary food and drinks!
And here’s one the public affairs staff will remember—a strange translation from Japanese to English on a gift bag I bought from the Daiso Store in the Westlake Mall. Oddly enough, it suits where we are right now: Only imflowing. You don’t flowing, imflowing. I must go. To you, stay a place.
WHF is in a phase of transition, and we will be continuing some of our work in a limited scope. We still hope to be able to make Washington the healthiest state in the nation, and we are open to future possibilities to continue our great projects. More information on where we are now is available on our website here. Thank you to you, the people of Washington, for all your great efforts over these past 20 years! And thank you WHF for a wonderful work experience. The future is wide open…..