Put your heart into it

I’ve always said that we work with amazing people, and I recently learned about another extraordinary County employee.

During the day, Kyra (O’Keefe) Smithlin is an Accounting Assistant II with the Finance Department.  But the rest of her time is devoted to the American Heart Association.  Once you hear her story you’ll understand why.

Today is Go Red for Women Day and as the new national ambassador Kyra appeared on the TODAY Show live in the NYC studio earlier today.  Kyra was selected from thousands of applicants, and she almost didn’t even submit her name for consideration!

You can see a clip of her time on the TODAY Show with Al Roker and team here.

Kyra has been busy over the last decade speaking with local groups at places like Benaroya Hall, the Washington State Fair, the Glass Museum, and the LeMay Museum.  But, what an exciting time in Kyra’s life as she embarks on sharing her story with the whole country!

Across the county today people are wearing red to raise awareness of the importance of heart health.  Learning CPR (and the signs of stroke) may save a life. It certainly saved Kyra’s – many times!

I want to share with you another wonderful County employee. Trixy Petaia is a Bilingual Case Manager with the Human Services Aging and Disabilities Resources group. For the last 9 years she has been a kind, trusted advocate for Suilia, a 94-year-old client.  Their bond was very strong, as you can imagine.  You can learn more about them and their friendship in this clip from a video created late last year:

I was sad to hear that Suilia passed away a couple of weeks ago, leaving behind a grieving family and a heartbroken friend.  As Trixy said, “This is the toughest part of what we do.  Siuila has left behind a legacy of love and light with her family, friends, and me.  At one point during the interview for our video, I asked her what her secret was.  She said “pray everyday and take care of your teeth.” At the age of 94, she had all her teeth, didn’t wear any dentures 😊”

Trixy, thank you for the care, support and advocacy you provided for dear Suilia. May her memory be a blessing, and may you be an inspiration to all of us to bring compassion, respect, and dignity to all our residents.

Thanks for reading,