Saying goodbye — A community education

After a year-and-a-half, reporter Kristin Okinaka says farewell.

My first day on the job easily turned into a more than 8-hour day as I ended it at the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club after the sun had set. Club members asked me if I had a business card once I told them I was a reporter.

“I’m pretty new here,” I responded, not wanting to give away that this was actually my first day.

I was getting acquainted with the fact that the county prosecutor had just filed a lawsuit against the club. I was getting acquainted with many things — a few weeks before getting hired, I realized that Silverdale wasn’t even a city.

This was a little more than a year-and-a-half ago.

Now I know Central Kitsap “like the back of my hand,” as one Central Kitsap High School teacher put it.

Being born and raised in Seattle, I wasn’t sure how I would adapt to life in West Sound. It was strange when people joked that I was from the “east side” because in Seattle, Bellevue and beyond are referred to as the east side.

But, quickly I learned that the people here are motivated, kind and are more than willing to help one another. I also quickly started seeing the same people everywhere. When people are dedicated and involved with one cause, they are likely involved in another — even the kids and teenagers.

And, the same goes for Bremerton.

Seeing individuals so proud of their communities was inspiring. And, being able to see first hand what they do as a member of their community allowed me to take part in several “activities” I never thought I would.

I flew over Silverdale in a Cessna. I climbed. I tagged along with a Kitsap County sheriff’s deputy and his canine companion in the early morning hours.

Most importantly, I did those things — among going to meetings, checking police reports — in order to share stories. That’s what I enjoyed the most about my first “real” job out of college. Finding the stories and telling them.

Thank you for inviting me into your schools, welcoming me into your homes and allowing me to share your stories with others.

Although I will no longer be one of the first to know, I can’t wait to hear more of these stories from others.

One woman called me last week with a news tip and when I asked her who she was, she said, “I’m nobody.”

Everybody is somebody.

Central Kitsap and Bremerton, thanks for letting me be somebody.