Giving Back and Giving Thanks

Dear Friend,

I hope you are recovering after a long weekend of food, football (how about those Huskies? Trying to forget the Seahawks), family, and Black Friday sales.  

Generally as Thanksgiving approaches, we usually get a little excited. Some dream about the delicious food they are going to pile high on their plate. Maybe you look forward to a steady stream of football games and family time with uncles, aunts, and cousins you haven’t seen in a while. 

I’ve found that nothing brings people together better than heaps of food and family. As America moves past a deeply divisive election season, Thanksgiving came at just the right time.  In the past few weeks I’ve found I believe more than ever we lose something bigger if we forget that we are all in this together. That we all must stand up for our shared values as Americans. 

In our neck of the woods and across our nation it’s important for those of us who are blessed with gatherings and meals of our own to give back too. So leading up to this year’s big dinner I spent time with service organizations across the region to hear about the great work they are doing, and to lend a hand of my own. 

The local food banks, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters are a real reminder of the extraordinary need that still exists in our region and of the vital work being done by so many outstanding people. This season, it’s worth noting that at the heart of gratitude, there should also be a call to responsibility and generosity. Regardless of who you supported this election season, I think that’s a notion that all folks – left, right, and center – can get behind. 

Here are the highlights from my stops across the region! 

I kicked things off with Coastal Harvest in Hoquiam. We re-packed 4,800 lbs of fresh corn for needy families in our region. It was a good workout and it was a good reminder of the important role that community service plays in our civic culture. 

I'm grateful for the Cathers family for leading the charge on the Gig Harbor Basket Brigade each and every year. This year, nearly two thousand baskets were delivered to families. I enjoyed working with the other volunteers to load up the trucks. Awesome to see so many young people helping!

I am thankful for the Rescue Mission in Tacoma and all the volunteers who showed up on Thursday to make sure folks had a warm meal this Thanksgiving. Grateful for all of our blessings.

Stopping by our Local Businesses 

When I’m running pillar to post in our region I like to help out any way I can. A lot of you may remember that before coming to Congress, I spent a decade working in economic development professionally. In that capacity, I met with about two-hundred businesses a year to help them grow, succeed, and stay in our region. As your representative, helping small businesses grow and create good jobs remains one of my top priorities. After all, our local employers are the backbone of our economy. 

Just as in my first term in office, I’m proud to announce that, during this second term, I made it to over 100 businesses throughout the district I represent. During these visits I’ve dubbed ‘Kilmer at Your Company’ I get to hear from local employers about how the federal government impacts their business (for good and for bad). What’s more, in my view it’s important to let local employers and their workers know that they’re appreciated. If there’s a company you’d like me to visit don’t hesitate to reach out to my office and we’ll try to schedule a visit. 

Here’s the two I visited last week to round out the 100! 

I was thrilled to join Joe Kawaky and Hesco Armor for my 100th Kilmer at Your Company for this past term! Hesco is growing steadily and now employs over 70 residents of Grays Harbor County. I can't wait to see their continued success in the years ahead. Thanks for being a new staple of this community!

I also connected with CEO Mike Entz for a check-in at Cosmo Specialy Fibers in Cosmopolis to round out my Grays Harbor trip. Cosmo is a vital employer in this region, providing high wages and great benefits to over 170 employees! The future looks bright and I'm happy to be a partner.

Helping Build a 21st Century Middle Class 

One key way to build an economy that works for everyone and grow the middle class is through apprenticeships. While not everyone is going to go to college, in the 21st century, good-paying jobs often require advanced skills. That’s why more than ever we need to invest in education and programs that provide certificates and training that position our workers to fill job openings. 

Recently, we celebrated National Apprenticeship Week and I highlighted the Department of Labor’s efforts to promote where we are and where we need to go in this area. They developed a website that is a snapshot of national opportunities in apprenticeships and their impact across the United States. You can find that here

Apprenticeships encourage innovation—and quality wages. I also signed onto a resolution supporting the official designation of the week of November 14th as National Apprenticeship Week. This is one way my colleagues and I are trying to raise the profile of apprenticeships so folks can learn more about how they can help them build a career. You can see the resolution here

Renewable Biofuels on Alaska Flight

Embracing clean energy can lead to breakthroughs and economic opportunities for our region. Last week, Alaska Airlines used a renewable biofuel to help fuel a flight from Seattle to Washington D.C. What did they use? Wood, in particular the leftovers from timber projects. I’m proud the Pacific Northwest is at the center of these projects and look forward to seeing how it can help our region continue to make progress. Read more about this here.

Our economy and environment can both benefit when companies collaborate with scientists who are at the forefront of new energy discoveries. I applaud this effort—and look forward to promoting this work.

District Visits

Thanks to the Optometric Physicians of Washington for a great evening of discussion about health care -- and for making sure I can see.

I had a great meeting with Kitsap County Sheriff Gary Simpson last week. We talked about everything from federal funding to challenges surrounding mental health and homelessness. I'm thankful for all that Sheriff's office does to be a community partner and keep our neighborhoods safe.

As always, let me know if I can help you or someone you know!

Derek Kilmer