Thirty years ago I was Miss Grays Harbor, proudly preparing to represent my community at the Miss Washington pageant. I couldn’t wait to tell people about my hometown. Three decades have given me time to reflect and today, I am even prouder of what our community has to offer.
From our high schools competing to raise money to supply local food banks, to the incredible fundraising efforts at local Relay for Life events for the American Cancer Society, I am excited to see how my community continues to come together and inspire one another.
This spring a new group called Grays Harbor Rocks invited people to paint and hide rocks for others to find; this simple activity has brought so much delight as people express themselves artistically and create a playful game of hide and seek that encourages others to join in the fun. Another new group, Play it Forward, developed with the mission to support local musicians by providing instruments and opportunities for them to perform. The towns of Aberdeen and Hoquiam worked together to establish a beautiful new YMCA for Grays Harbor in 1998. Local volunteers created the Grays Harbor Community Foundation to provide scholarships demonstrating our commitment as a community to the next generation.
Growing up, my parents taught me to serve, to learn, to explore and to ask questions — so, I find myself still watching and wondering. What adventure is before me today? My life is about being an explorer with an attitude of discovery and wonder. Will I meet my dad and launch our kayaks in the Chehalis River and spot an osprey nest? Maybe I will take a watercolor class from Ken Mitchell at Westport Winery or learn more about blowing glass at Opal Art Glass with my mom. My husband and I might drive out to the beach to ride horses at Honey Pearl Ranch and spend the weekend at Seabrook, or we could meet our friends and see a performance at the Driftwood, 7th Street, Bishop Center or D&R Theatre. Of course if it’s Monday, Tuesday or Thursday evening, I’ll be at Turning Pointe Classical Studio of Dance with my teacher, Lori Oestreich.
After college, I knew I would return to Grays Harbor. I am proud to work in public education here. People are willing to teach, coach, lead or lend a hand. Every time I discover something new here, I can’t wait to share it. In my heart, I never stopped being Miss Grays Harbor. With all our community has to offer, it’s easy to be excited about Grays Harbor.
Jill Smith is a counselor at Hoquiam High School where she has been employed for 25 years. She and her husband Brian live in Aberdeen and will celebrate their 25th anniversary in December. They enjoy traveling, but some of their favorite adventures have taken place in Grays Harbor County.