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Peer Employee Interviews

Julie Hinkemeyer

How were you introduced to Peer WA?

 

I was looking online for work in this field. I had interviewed at a few places, but then I saw Peer Spokane open. They had just cut the ribbon when I walked in the door and started talking to Georgia. I didn't follow any directions about sending in my resume, but I walked in and buttered her up the best I could. I checked in every week and hounded her until I got an interview with her and Josh. I had no experience or office history, but I told them I throw a good party and that sure sold Josh and Georgia. The rest is history, and I fit right in quickly. 

 

Are you working on any projects you'd be excited to tell us about?

 

I am setting up the Family Navigator position for Peer Spokane! 

 

Do you have a hero? Or any idols that help guide you?

 

This will sound really corny, don't laugh, but it's my parents. They raised me the best they could and gave me a great work ethic. They paid for all these private lessons with sports. Even when I did messed up stuff to them, they always held out for me. If they weren't able to love me unconditionally, I wouldn't be here today doing my work. Today we even live on the same street. 

 

What piece of entertainment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you could experience it again?

 

Game of Thrones. I love to watch that show. It's got everything you could ask for! 

 

Did you acquire a new quarantine hobby for 2020?

 

When I was quarantined, I still had the peer Spokane phone; it was my cell phone. My hobby was listening to people melting down from the pandemic. It was rough. I would get calls all day. It felt great to help people, but the emotional toll it took built up on me quickly. Washington Listens was an excellent lifesaver for me. 

 

I also like to paint. I paint regularly and with large paint-by-numbers projects. Sometimes I would paint while listening to people melting down. 

 

What song is stuck in your head today?

 

Justin Beiber's "Love Yourself." I'm not sure why, but I love all his songs. I'm a Belieber! This song helps me build confidence in myself. Even though he is such a douche, he speaks to me. 

 

What is your favorite date on the calendar? 

 

February 2nd, 2022. Two has always been my favorite number ever since I found out I write it uniquely. It has always felt lucky to me. 

 

What is something you've meant to try but haven't yet? 

 

Bungie jump or skydive. If I weren't so scared of the flight to get there, maybe I'd have done it by now. Having someone else in control like that terrifies me. The jump itself would be easier for me. 

 

What is something you are doing now to make you a better person? 

 

I am giving back to my family. My mother is dying of pancreatic cancer, and my dad has been showing signs of dementia. My 90-year-old grandparents live nearby me as well. I've been feeding my self-less growth by focussing on my family. During my addiction, I stole a lot of money from my parents. Now they are well off, but during that time, they sacrificed so much for me. 

 

What do you wish would come back into fashion? 

 

I kind of wish everyone still wore dresses, like with girdles, lace, corsets, fancy dresses. I'd work in a brothel just to have a corset. I want the fun of dressing up and going big. 

 

Well, that or the 80s. The gloves, the crimped hair, the polka dot skirt, vinyl.  

 

Did you have a favorite sport to play growing up? How about now? 

 

While growing up, I played soccer, softball, and basketball. When I was young, I would do multiple sports. When I got older, I focussed on basketball to get scholarships. I was on a team that went to nationals for basketball. I played till my senior year and dislocated my ankle, which halted all those plans. 

 

Looking back, it was all about training; I didn't really have a social life. So I didn't enjoy it to its fullest. 

 

Do you watch any sports on TV? 

 

I'm one of those people that yell at the screen. I have to watch it after the fact; I get mad and adrenaline pumping. 

 

What is new at Peer Spokane? 

 

We now have our four tables with umbrellas on our outside deck with a grill. We want our members to feel more at home here. That can include us having "coach cookouts" where we have trainings and delicious BBQ right after. 

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Michael "Pookie" Kerns

How were you introduced to Peer WA?

I came into recovery in 2009, having used meth in Seattle. Seattle was my playground. To get away from Seattle, I moved to Tacoma. While there, I still had some friends in Seattle who mentioned Strength over Speed training. I attended meetings, became a front desk volunteer, and now here I am! Loretta was my tutor when I first started here, and she got me on the right track. I also volunteered at the tree lot and had a blast doing that. 

Are you working on any projects you'd be excited to tell us about?

Yes, I am setting up the family navigator program! I've been collaborating between Sarah and Julie. 

Do you have a hero? Or any idols that help guide you?

So many people leave footprints in my journey; so this is a difficult question to think about. It's like being at the Oscars...who do I choose to thank?! My recovery coach family, my AA family, I really can't single out an individual. 

What piece of entertainment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you could experience it again?

When I was 16, my father taught me to fly. Pot and drinking made me never finish that. If there were one thing I could go back and do, I'd go back and get that license. 

Did you acquire a new quarantine hobby for 2020?

I worked for Holland America line cruise company and got laid off due to the virus hitting us. For three months, I decided to travel by myself while adhering to health precautions as best I could. I got to visit places I've always wanted to see. I went to Las Vegas, saw Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyon Land, and even the Grand Canyon all in a week. 2100 miles driven all by myself. 

What song is stuck in your head today?

The Cars and Depeche Mode. "Moving in Stereo" or "Enjoy the Silence" are often in my head. 

What is your favorite date on the calendar?

St Patrick's Day, that is my anniversary of stopping meth. 

What is something you've meant to try but haven't yet?

There are two: extreme bungee jumping or sky diving. I love to fly!

What is something you are doing now to make you a better person?

Spiritual retreats! So, I have myself turned inside out, process trauma, go through it one more time, and be done with it. I'm learning to stay in my lane. 

What do you wish would come back into fashion?

My hair! I used to have beautiful blonde hair. Feathered hair, blowing in the wind, gorgeous!

You have a great passion for aviation; where did that come from?

My father, he was a pilot. He started the flight school currently at Joint Base Lewis–McChord. He moved the family up to Alaska, where he piloted many workers. The man had tens of thousands of hours of flight time and was very well known. I had gotten the bug from him, and I loved flying with him. 

On that topic, do you have a favorite type of aircraft that is special to you?

The Concorde, it was the pinnacle of aviation. My father met Andre Turcat (the first pilot to take the first Concorde prototype to the skies), he got me an autographed picture with him and the Concorde. 

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Loretta Donnelly

How were you introduced to Peer WA?

 

Around 2010, I was going to a Dunshee House support group called Daring Divorced Divas. From there, I heard about the tree lot they did every year, so I decided to visit and asked if they needed help. They said always! After the new year in 2011, I applied to be a front desk volunteer. 

 

Are you working on any projects you'd be excited to tell us about?

 

I am rolling out a new inventory on Smart Sheets. That will help show all the crazy little things we need. 

 

Do you have a hero? Or any idols that help guide you?

 

Zena warrior princess and I have the tattoos to show it! She didn't take no shit, and she was always very persistent, even in the face of failure. 

 

What piece of entertainment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you could experience it again?

 

Disco, the whole disco era. The white blazers, the Frye boots, and don't forget the hankies. Listening to groups like The Trammps again for the first time would be magical. 

 

Did you acquire a new quarantine hobby for 2020?

 

Well, I wasn't really quarantined. I was still here and let myself go crazy cleaning the place up and taking advantage of the "break." So, cleaning and organizing was my hobby. 

 

What song is stuck in your head today?

 

"Latch" by Disclosure featuring Sam Smith. It is a great dance song to crank up and get myself motivated.

 

What is your favorite date on the calendar?

 

My favorite date is probably March 15th, the Ides of March. The day the Roman senate annihilated Julius Caesar. He was going to declare himself a god/Emporer or whatever. It reminds me to have faith in people to prevail and overthrow zealous leaders. 

 

What is something you've meant to try but haven't yet?

 

Fear aside, it would be dancing on a Broadway stage. 

 

What is something you are doing now to make you a better person?

 

I've got a stream of notes tapped to the bottom of my calendar. These include: "don't panic," "adapt, adjust, and accept," and "act, don't react." Those have been my mantra for a couple of years now. Putting them up has definitely made me a better person. 

 

What do you wish would come back into fashion?

 

The mullet! I used to have the perfect one. In Burien, they are still fashionable, though...

 

I hear you've been involved in ballroom dancing, is there a school of dance you enjoy most? 

 

I was in a contest in Spokane and got first in the Cha-Cha; that is probably my strongest school of dance. I was going to go to Century Ballroom to get back into it. I want to perfect the Lindy Hop or Jitterbug. 

Sarah Andrews

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How were you introduced to Peer WA?


I was introduced through Pattie! I knew her when I was a maintenance supervisor at the apartment she lived at. While there, our daughters became very close. Then, we lost contact for a while, maybe ten years, until I was training to become a Peer Counselor, and we had a guest speaker come in who happened to be Pattie. I talked with her right after, kept in contact for a few months, then she told me there are positions open Peer Kent. Now here I am. 

Are you working on any projects you'd be excited to tell us about?


I do a lot of yoga. When I'm not at Peer Kent, I work for 3 Trees Yoga part-time in Federal Way. I've also started a group on Mondays called Movement and Meditation. I'm working on a project through them for Pride this summer; it will be Queer Positive Yoga for people in the LGBTQ+ community and their friends. When I teach, I try to curate a very peaceful and calming environment to encourage meditation. It helps a ton with depression and anxiety, among many other health benefits. What I love most about yoga is that it can be done anywhere, at any time, and by anyone regardless of body type. 

Do you have a hero? Or any idols that help guide you?


My Mother-in-law Lavinia Tan is probably my biggest hero; she is the most incredible woman I've ever met. Her family fled Vietnam during the communist takeover, was lost at sea for weeks, and eventually fled to Malaysia in a refugee camp for six months. Later, she was sponsored by Seventh-day Adventist missionaries, and they got her to move to America. She quickly adjusted, went into education, and helped her younger siblings get into college as well. 

 

What piece of entertainment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you could experience it again?


Schitt's Creek I am obsessed with. Although, I could watch that again anyways. I've already watched it four times. 

Did you acquire a new quarantine hobby for 2020?


Pickleball! My partner and I used to go to the gym all the time since it was within walking distance, and we'd always see an older crowd playing pickleball. We have some courts nearby and decided to buy the gear and start playing. It turns out that it is tons of fun and a great skill to learn for folks to stay mobile. 

What song is stuck in your head today?


"Simply the Best" by Tina Turner

What is your favorite date on the calendar?


Although I am not the most sentimental person, it has to

be our anniversary. On March 18th, this will be our

seventh year. 

What is something you've meant to try but haven't yet?


Let's see, I've already tried skydiving, zip-lining in Mexico, hot air ballooning...LARPing! I've always wanted to do it. The next staff connections should be LARPing, please. 

 

What is something you are doing now to make you a better person?


I try to live by the eight limbs of yoga. This includes the Yamas as the 5 social ethics regarding how you treat others (kindness, truth, not stealing, moderation, generosity) and the Niyamas, which are more about how you treat yourself (purity, contentment, austerity, soul study, surrender). Even though I am not religious, so I don't study the "surrender to a higher power" as much, there is a lot of wisdom here that I try to embrace from them and the other eight limbs. Mindfulness and harmony of myself and with the universe are things I find essential to seek, not to mention many other benefits

What do you wish would come back into fashion?


Spandex. 80s Jane Fonda spandex. Speaking of questionable fashion, I remember being a big fan of TLC. So much so that when I was 12 or 13, I tried to get a haircut just like T-Boz. It turned out to be a bowl cut...

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Roberta "Bert" Romero

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How were you introduced to Peer WA?

About two to three years ago, I was invited by the king county recovery alliance to a meeting hosted by peer Seattle. There I met Cody, Dana, Loretta, and Josh all on that first day. 

 

Are you working on any projects you'd be excited to tell us about?

 

I am! With something that has taken my whole life to get here. I've always wanted to do something special about mental health on the news network. I've just started this brand new segment on King 5 called "are you ok" airing on Sunday morning. It covers a wide variety of mindful topics, from depression to how to talk about politics. I get to help write it, develop new content, and allow the anchor to execute it. I am still perfecting it and getting it to a great place to grow. 

 

Do you have a hero? Or any idols that help guide you?

 

One of my heroes would be my mother. She grew up in New Mexico; her first language is Spanish, the eldest girl of ten kids. At school, whenever she spoke Spanish, she would be physically hit. When she started high school, her Dad told her no more education. Luckily she was still able to go through high school despite this. She is a domestic violence survivor and a great ally for me when I was getting sober. She gave me a great perspective on any disenfranchised community. 

 

Who is your favorite interview you've done?

 

I've done some big names like Dick Cheney and Oprah Winfrey, but the best are usually the little families willing to share their stories. A big one that comes to mind is Penny Legate. She was Evening Magazine's anchor.  Unfortunately, her daughter died from a drug overdose, and Penny has since been a prominent advocate for recovery and drug addiction visibility. Her story is always one that sticks out in my mind. 

 

What piece of entertainment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you could experience it again?

 

For tv, it's got to be Breaking Bad. It was even filmed in my hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

 

For music, I had the great fortune of having a once in a lifetime musical experience. My twin daughters wanted to see a concert back in middle school, and I luckily took them to a show. It was a small venue, very personal. It was Bruno Mars and Janelle Monet! Right before anyone knew them. I'd love to be able to do that again; watching them live was unbelievable, and getting eye contact from both artists during their performance was very memorable. 

 

Did you acquire a new quarantine hobby for 2020?

 

No, but I reignited one—coloring with gel pens. 

 

What song is stuck in your head today?

 

I start every day with "Lovely Day" by Bill Withers. A few commercials picked it up and reminded me of the song. 

 

What is your favorite date on the calendar?

 

January 2nd, my sober bday, 1-02-04. My bitter regret was not making it 12-31-03; it feels like I missed a year. 

 

What is something you've meant to try but haven't yet?

 

Well, I don't want to jump out of an airplane. I want to do more art like painting and sewing, but it intimidates me. Need the willingness to do so. 

 

I'd love love love to write a tv show or movie script. A 30-minute sitcom type, even though writing funny is difficult. It is easier to write to make people cry rather than laugh. 

 

What is something you are doing now to make you a better person?

 

I'm in a brand new group; it is an all-women group learning about codependency. 

 

I seem to have a really poor memory of my childhood. I've come to find out that is because of trauma; as a child, you learn to deny and minimize it. Unpacking that has made a lot more things make sense. For instance, my difficulty with learning Spanish was because of my father using it during times of domestic abuse. 

 

Are there any recent technologies or pieces of pop culture that you've surprised yourself by liking?

 

I can't believe I love TikTok and Reddit; I just love them. Facebook? Hate it. For TikTok, I really enjoy watching drag queens go through their makeup transformations. For Reddit, I love any pet-themed subreddits, like animals being "bros" or jerks. Some of my favorite subreddits are: r/stopdrinking r/raisedbynarcissists r/relationshipadvice (reading this one makes me think, "oh, my life isn't so bad").  

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Rivet 

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How were you introduced to Peer WA?

I was introduced to the organization through a friend, Steven Griffith, who worked at SASG ["Seattle Area Support Groups" now renamed: Peer Washington] at the time doing a version of my current job. He asked me to help develop a poster for the tree lot [the tree lot was a fundraiser we were able to do selling evergreen trees for the holidays]. This led to me helping work the tree lot itself, which allowed me to meet many people within the organization and learn about their work. 

Eventually, I developed a website for SASG since I saw that it could be easily updated and presented it to Josh Wallace. I wasn't looking for a job at that time and enjoyed it as a side gig. However, Josh convinced me to take up a more stable position, and here I am!

Are you working on any projects you'd be excited to tell us about?

 

My new house in Tacoma. For Peer Washington, I'm working closely with Tyler and Bert formulating a new ambassador program to help with marketing. Expect that to come to fruition this year, along with some new merchandise to help spread our name. 

 

Do you have a hero? Or any idols that help guide you? 

 

I would feel remiss if I didn't mention the grand excellence himself, Josh Wallace. Nikola Tesla has always inspired me by his eccentricities and how far ahead of his time he was. Dolly Parton is awesome. 

 

What piece of entertainment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you could experience it again for the first time?

 

Battlestar Galactica. It is just such a great show, humans coming together to face a problem they put upon themselves. Extremely well-written characters make the whole ride so enjoyable and insightful. 

 

Did you acquire a new quarantine hobby for 2020?

 

Fermentation station. With the help of Brad Leone, I've been able to do a lot of fun stuff. "Peppergine" might've been my biggest hit, a hot sauce made from hatch chiles with that added fermentation-funk. 

 

What song is stuck in your head today? 

 

Raspberry Beret by Prince. As much as I don't like Prince for being a chauvinistic asshole, it is catchy. [Rivet sings, "She wore a raspberry beret, the kind you find in a second-hand store!"] His song highlights reducing-reusing-recycling, which I'm very into right now. 

 

What is your favorite date on the calendar? A holiday?

 

I don't know; I have more of a favorite time of day...like lunchtime. 

 

What do you wish would come back into fashion?

 

Capes. Men's capes. Or...cloaks, put cloaks. I feel like I want to wear a cloak, but there is a part of me that says, "no, you're not old enough to be eccentric yet." Plus, I wear shorts, and I haven't seen any good cloak-shorts combos yet. 

 

What is something you've meant to try but haven't yet?

 

Basketweaving. I think it's a great skill to have, and I bought my mother a basketweaving gift for Christmas because I secretly want to do it. 

 

What is something you are doing now to make you a better person?

 

I'm participating less in the outside world (social media and news) while trying to be more mindful of the people and space around me. I'm receiving validation from the people closest to me rather than from the masses, which, I think, gives it a lot more meaning.