This week Discover Mukilteo Talks with Janet Hammerman. Janet is a Program Manager at PROVAIL and if you are unfamiliar with PROVAIL they support people with disabilities to lead inclusive lives. One such way they achieve this is through their employment program. PROVAIL helps people understand their strengths, goals, and options while helping businesses figure out their needs and areas for growth. Then, they match business leaders with pre-qualified employees. PROVAIL provides ongoing guidance so both the business and the employee feel supported and confident.
DM: How long have you lived in Mukilteo?
JM: I have lived in the Mukilteo school district since 1997. I moved to Mukilteo proper in 2007.
DM: How long have you worked for PROVAIL?
Almost 6 years.
DM: You are very active in the Mukilteo Community. Can you tell us about the boards you serve on as well as your volunteer positions? Why did you choose these organizations?
JM: I worked very closely with the Japanese Gulch Board. They were my first client when I started Brand Builder Media, a PR/Marketing company.
At that time, my kids were still in school and one of the parents asked if I would be interested in attending a Chamber meeting. She thought it might help me to launch my business. I didn’t know much about the role of Chambers of Commerce. I was hesitant about going but once I walked in the door, I knew I was in the right place. I was welcomed by the business community and learned that the leaders were not all business, they were also very fun. I learned a lot about local businesses through the Chamber and met leaders in our community. I was approached by the Director at the time to become a board member and accepted. I remained on the board of the Chamber for 12 years. It was a great experience for me.
I was on the PTSA at school and worked on several volunteer committees. was an Art Docent and led the AR Reading program. I was also heavily involved with Steven Covey’s Leader In Me program at Mukilteo Elementary School. There were parents who saw me there so frequently, they thought I worked there.
Several years ago, there was a cluster of kids who took their lives at Kamiak. Many of the parents I knew felt powerless but knew we needed to do SOMETHING! I attended a discussion at Kamiak that was led by a former football player. From that discussion, a group was formed. It was consisted of people from different organizations in the community that all had resources for our youth. We met many times and formed a more official group called Mukilteo Youth Coalition. We became a resource for youth for any challenges they may be struggling with. We were invited to events to share our resources and created a web site that had a list and links. A local church offered to provide a safe place for kids after school. The Coalition members volunteered to be there, pick up food and drinks and play games if they wanted to interact with us adults. One of the members created a garden on the Church grounds and offered to have kids there with her to learn about horticulture. Though we all got busy and haven’t been meeting, the group of us that met knew that we were our spheres of influence. To this day, I know I could pick up the phone and rely on anyone in that group to come through if needed.
I am a Parks and Arts Commissioner in the city of Mukilteo which is an advisory board to the City Council. I have been a commissioner since 2014. We work on things like our PROSA plan, which is a comprehensive, 6-year report based on finding from surveys that identify our community’s needs. It also gives us access to grant that help us get some of the projects on our docket. We have worked on projects such as Byers Family Park, The Waterfront Master Plan, The Japanese Gulch Master Plan, The Multimodal Ferry Terminal, Park Stewardship, Eagle Scout projects. Memorial benches, Cultural Arts Funding, Gateways and Branding, and the Tails and Trails Dog Park. My goal is to have the Dirt Jump Bike Course in Japanese Gulch completed by the time I leave the Commission.
DM: Is there an achievement or contribution you are most proud of, and why?
JM: I think the Japanese Gulch project is what I’m most proud of. Together with a group of citizens, we were able to preserve 100 acres of parkland for recreational use for future generations. People who know I helped still approach me to tell me how grateful they are. It was a good example for my kids to know that people can make a difference.
DM: What is your favorite place in Mukilteo to visit and why?
JM: I most enjoy walking along the waterfront. We start at Edgewater Beach and where it is quiet and peaceful, stroll along the ferry terminal which resembles a long house and has beautiful artwork, and end up at Lighthouse Park which is vibrant with many people out, enjoying the amenities. It will take a long time for the Waterfront Master Plan to be completed but it has been a pleasure to see the work that has been done so far.
DM: Do you have a favorite book, website, or podcast, and why?
JM: That is a tough question – which one to choose…
One book that I read recently was very interesting – Humankind. It has a positive spin and challenges some theories that I believed to be true.
DM: If you could have dinner with someone (alive or dead, real or fictional), who would it be and why?
JM: Again, this is a tough one – I lost my Dad when I was 21 so maybe him, maybe Freud!
DM: What do you think surprises people about you?
JM: I’m going to turn this question inward. I’m normally extraordinarily busy. I was so surprised about myself that during the pandemic, I didn’t miss outside activities asmuch as I thought I would. I learned that as much as a shock as it was confine ourselves, people are adaptable. There were a lot of silver linings that came out of a worldwide tragedy.
DM: Is there anything else you would like to share with me?
JM: My husband and I traveled around the country in a motorhome for 2 years, and on a boat in the Caribbean for one year when we were young. We did this before we had kids or a house. We lost many people to cancer which was part of what led to the decision to do that. I have never regretted that decision.
We still enjoy traveling but not on that scale.
We also have a boat in the Everett marina and love being out on the water, especially in the San Juans and Gulf Islands. The very best day for me would be to be out on the water with my husband and kids and to see whales on the way.
DM: Is there any question I should have asked you but did not?
JM: You asked how long I have been at PROVAIL but not much else. It is a career that I fell into and that I am passionate about. I supervise a staff of job coaches who work with people who have developmental disabilities. They ensure that their clients are integrated into their community and are successful, productive, and happy employees. It is very rewarding!