By Meredith Parker,
WorkFirst Supervisor at the Forks office
Terri Rasmussen is retiring on May 31 – after 32 years of faithful service to the State of Washington at the Department of Social and Health Services.
Terri grew up in the north end of Seattle and after graduating worked various jobs, always increasing her levels of responsibility. After moving to Forks in the early 1980s, she sought a career that would provide interesting work, service to people – and good benefits! She found just that when she applied for and was offered the position of General Clerk with the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).
“In those days processing benefits was done by hand on sheets of paper and there was a lot of filing to be done!” Rasmussen remarked.
Terri has seen many changes in the programs, the processes and the technology in the three-plus decades she served the people of Washington state.
Terri’s “take the bull by the horns” attitude, her genuine desire to help people and raising her three young sons fueled her desire to seek advancement at DSHS. She took the training and was promoted to a Financial Services Specialist (FSS) where she worked with the medical and child-care units at the local Forks office and the Customer Service Center, later seeking a position with Washington DSHS’s TANF, or WorkFirst, program.
WorkFirst is Washington’s welfare reform program designed to help parents get what they need to prepare for and go to work. Aiming for “a job, a better job, a better life” is key to sustained success.
As a WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS), Terri was able to build relationships with those she served and encourage them to take the steps necessary to find meaningful work and support for the families.
In a personally signed letter to Terri, Gov. Jay Inslee said, in part, “Public service is both a privilege and a high calling and you have embraced your responsibilities with great energy and purpose. As you know, state government provides critical services to communities throughout Washington and your expertise and professionalism have helped ensure that our work is timely, relevant and accountable to the people we serve.
“Washington has a unique culture of innovation and public servants like you play an important role in protecting the health and advancing the future of our great state. I applaud your commitment to excellence and know that your passion and presence will be sorely missed.”
In her letter to Terri, Secretary of DSHS Cheryl Strange said, “You have been an important asset to this department and your efforts and contributions will be remembered by your colleagues and the department as a whole.”
Terri is going to be missed by her co-workers. Her steadfast loyalty to DSHS and providing the best service possible, commitment to seeking solutions, local knowledge and balance she provides within the office environment is going to leave an unmistakable void. Terri has worked with the Forks and Neah Bay offices with Suzanne Davis, Mardell McGimpsey, Shannon Dahlgren, Rebekah Gooding and Selina Spurlock (among many others) who are also preparing for the adjustment to the daily routine of seeing Terri’s smiling face and friendly presence to now knowing she will be enjoying her well-deserved retirement years.
Terri’s sons, Willy Johnson, Zane Ross and Pat Ross — all Forks High School alums — have between them four daughters (Terri’s granddaughters) and between she and her husband, Ted, they have seven children and 15 grandchildren. Together, Terri and Ted support the grandchildren through attendance and cheering at different sporting and other youth-focused or family events.
When asked what she’ll do in retirement, Terri quickly responded “Lots! I love to work in the garden with vegetables and perennials; gathering shells, driftwood and rocks at the beach to add to the landscape; sew; hunt and fish; attend Forks Elks Club events with Ted and friends and help people with home DIY projects like tiling and grouting.”
While Terri may not be at work from 8-5, her desire to help people will not diminish and she’ll continue in that vein as long as she is able. As both her parents are widowed or single, she plans to help them out even more than she does now.
Travel is also on her list. Upcoming plans include visits to friends and families along the Pacific coast and later this summer to Santa Cruz for a family wedding.
Terri has a love of rock and roll and attending live concerts stemming back to her years as a teenager growing up in Seattle. You can bet that live music will be a part of what she does during her retirement years.
Please join us in congratulating Terri for her dedicated years of service at an Open House reception from 3-5 p.m. on Thursday, May 31, at the offices of DSHS, 421 Fifth Ave.