Toastmasters: More than just public speaking


Toastmasters International is known for helping people become better public speakers, but did you know the organization’s activities can help you develop other professional skills?

Misako Yoke from Tumwater Talkers, a local organization of Toastmaster’s International was one of several members of the group who gave a presentation at the ICSEW’s general membership meeting in March. Yoke told her personal story of how mentors with the organization helped her “punch fear in the face,” when it comes to public speaking. Other members of the group highlighted professional skills they acquired from participating in the group, such as confidence-building, time management and thinking quickly and critically.

Members of the group meet Thursdays from 12:05 p.m. to 12:55 p.m. in room S-216 at the Department of Labor and Industries Building on Linderson Way in Tumwater. Membership is open to everyone. Fees may vary from club to club. Tumwater Talkers has a membership fee of $54 every six months and new members pay a one-time $20 fee, according to their website. State employees may be able to get their agency to pay for the fee. Contact your supervisor and training development unit of your agency to find out if you are eligible.

Toastmasters members say participating in the organization often helps people succeed in lots of professional situations, such as giving presentations, pitching ideas to clients or your boss, acing job interviews, giving evaluations and simply becoming more confident at social functions. Members are also paired with a mentor to help them with activities.

By regularly giving speeches, gaining feedback, leading teams and guiding others to achieve their goals in a supportive atmosphere, Toastmasters participants often emerge as leaders, members say.

Toastmasters International has more than 332,000 members in 142 countries. To find a club near you, visit

Employees Assistance Program (EAP) on Resiliency


Resiliency is the ability to overcome challenges of all kinds–trauma, tragedy, personal crises, just plain old life problems–-and bounce back stronger, wiser, and more personally powerful. Tom Mitchell from the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) shared tips with ICSEW members on how to become more resilient after a crisis during the March general membership meeting.

Resiliency is important– as it’s what we need when faced with life’s inevitable difficulties. EAP can help guide you to steps you can take to bounce back from any problem or challenge stronger, smarter, and more likely to aid your family and others you care about to bounce back, too.

All Washington state government agency employees and their adult family members may use the EAP to help resolve personal and work related issues. For more information on EAP and their services, visit their website.

February is American Heart Month

hearthealthHeart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds.  Fortunately, we can change that because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action. The American Heart Association has developed “Life’s Simple 7,” seven-steps to reduce risk for heart disease and stroke.

  1. Manage Blood Pressure
    High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keeps you healthier longer.
  2. Control Cholesterol
    High cholesterol contributes to plaque, which can clog arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke. When you control your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages.
  3. Reduce Blood Sugar
    Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.
  4. Get Active
    Living an active life is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give yourself and those you love. Simply put, daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life.
  5. Eat Better
    A healthy diet is one of your best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. When you eat a heart-healthy diet, you improve your chances for feeling good and staying healthy – for life!
  6. Lose Weight
    When you shed extra fat and unnecessary pounds, you reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton. You give yourself the gift of active living, you lower your blood pressure and you help yourself feel better, too.
  7. Stop Smoking
    Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.

To learn more visit:




Making state agencies work for LGBTQ employees and customers

Gov. Jay Inslee shaking hands with Franklin Plaistowe, assistant director for State Human Resource at the LGBTQ Employee Resource Group in Tumwater, Wash., Jan. 31, 2017
(Official Governor’s Office Photo)

“As long as I am governor, Washington will remain a place where no one can be discriminated against because of who they love, the color of their skin, their country of origin or how they worship.”

With those words, Gov. Jay Inslee kicked off the state’s newly-formed LGBTQ Employee Resource Group Tuesday before more than 300 state employees at the state Labor & Industries office in Tumwater.

The resource group is tasked with implementing the governor’s Safe WA directive issued last year. The initiative’s purpose is to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace for state workers and ensure that Washingtonians in the LGBTQ community can look to public-facing state offices for safe and secure spaces.

“We want to promote diversity and inclusion. Not only is it the right thing to do, we will create better workplaces and provide better services to our customers,” said Dr. John Wiesman, secretary of the Department of Health and the resource group’s executive sponsor. “This kickoff is the start of bringing LGBTQ employees and allies to the table. That is part of our mission as public servants and our responsibility as employers.”

The resource group is tasked with three goals:
•Advise and develop strategies to create safe, diverse and inclusive workplaces for LGBTQ employees and customers.
•Identify best practices, working with the Office of Financial Management’s State Human Resources Division to find innovative work underway to benefit LGBTQ employees and customers statewide and nationally.
•Develop a statewide safe place program modeled on those operated by the Olympia and Seattle police departments that offer safe, secure environments to request help and be connected to support services.

While the directive now applies to all state agencies that report to the governor, the resource group hopes to expand its efforts to other separately elected offices such as the offices of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Attorney General and others.

“We’ve not always had a place at the table for all the communities we serve,” said Franklin Plaistowe, assistant director for State Human Resources. “State government needs to be a place where as an employer we show a commitment to all our employees and demonstrate that they are respected, valued and understood.”

With Wiesman as executive sponsor, the resource group also includes another member of the governor’s cabinet, Lourdes (Alfie) Alvarado-Ramos, director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

“This is one of the first state governments to have a LGBTQ resource group for state employees,” Alvarado-Ramos said. “We are working to create a state government of openness, learning and opportunity.”

The resource group is co-chaired by Ellis Israel, a recruitment supervisor with the Department of Licensing, and Justin Taylor, a communications consultant with the Department of Labor and Industries.

When asked about the motivation to get involved in the resource group, Ellis was frank. “As a transgender person, I have not always been able to bring my authentic self to work. It greatly impacted my productivity, my engagement, my work relationships and my service to the public,” they said (“they” being Ellis’s preferred pronoun). “There is currently no enterprise-wide infrastructure in place to help LGBTQ employees. We don’t know how many of us work for the state or what our needs are. This resource group is open to everyone, including allies.”

Participation in the group is voluntary. Employees must have supervisor approval, be able to commit two to three hours a month. Because the group’s efforts are workplace related, participants do not have to take personal or vacation leave. State agencies will support the work and implement inclusion plans and other resources developed by the resource group.

Resource group co-chair Justin Taylor was invigorated by the initial interest and the number of people who attended Tuesday’s meeting. “This is a great start. I am excited about making structural change happen across the state,” he said. “This employee-driven program will involve as many voices as possible. We want to get this right and we want to start positively impacting lives.”

The resource group will meet every month and plans to provide a report to the governor in June with recommendations and updates on progress.

“The governor has shown strong and consistent commitment to this community, from the diversity of leadership that he has brought to his cabinet, where he ensures that cabinet members reflect all of Washington state, to this directive that prioritizes employee-driven efforts to support our LGBTQ employees and customers,” Wiesman said. “It makes a tremendous difference for all people to see themselves reflected in leadership and know that they are a priority.”



Glaucoma: 5 Things You Should Know


January 30, 2017 • By Jullia A. Rosdahl, Practicing Glaucoma Specialist, National Eye Health Education Program Glaucoma Subcommittee and Duke University Department of Ophthalmology

I don’t know about you, but at the start of each new year, I resolve to eat healthier, exercise more, and sleep in when I can! Some years I follow through with my promises, and some years I fall short. My days can be very hectic, and sometimes it’s hard to find time to take care of myself.

But, as an ophthalmologist, I always make sure to keep eye health at the top of my list. While it’s my profession, I also know that vision is directly related to my quality of life. Feeling your best includes seeing your best, too. And part of seeing your best is being aware of eye diseases and your risk for them.

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month — the perfect time to spread the word about glaucoma and encourage others to add learning about the disease to their list of resolutions.

To help get you started, here are the five things you need to know about glaucoma.

1.Glaucoma can cause vision loss and blindness that can’t be reversed. Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, which affects your vision since the optic nerve sends visual images to your brain. You can save your vision with early detection and treatment of glaucoma.

2.There is only one way to know if you have glaucoma. Getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to find out if you have glaucoma. During the exam, an eye care professional places drops in your eyes to widen the pupils and looks for signs of the disease in the optic nerve.

3.There are no early symptoms. Glaucoma often has no early warning signs. No pain. No discomfort. No blurry vision. Advanced glaucoma will affect your vision, but you shouldn’t wait for symptoms to visit your eye doctor!

4.In the United States, half of the people who have glaucoma don’t know they have it. Nearly 3 million Americans have glaucoma, and half don’t know it. Lack of awareness and lack of symptoms prevent people from getting the disease diagnosed early. You can change that! Find out if you have glaucoma by visiting an eye doctor.

5.Some people are at higher risk than others. African-Americans over 40, adults over 60 (especially Latinos), and people with a family history of glaucoma are at higher risk. That makes early detection important. Are you at higher risk? Find out by talking to your family to find out if anyone has had glaucoma.

Now that you’ve got the facts about glaucoma, make a resolution for healthier vision. Schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam today! And encourage your friends and loved ones to do the same.

To learn more about glaucoma, visit

It’s never too late to make a difference

Source: King5 news

The state capital can be known for its sleepy weekends when lawmakers tend to head home. Not the case for last Saturday.

The crowd who gathered for the Women’s March in Olympia far exceeded its predicted attendance. Early projections had the expected crowd to be 2,500. Olympia police officers and state leaders said it was around 10,000. Some of the attendees said they chose the state capital over Seattle because “this is where the legislators are.”

Among them was an 87-year-old cancer patient in hospice care, who had Saturday’s march on her bucket list.

Mary Tanasse of Lacey is in hospice care for terminal ovarian cancer. We found her in a wheelchair on Capitol Way, being pushed by one of her grandsons and surrounded by her family. “I asked them, please let me live until this march because it’s so important to me to model what I feel is right for my family,” she said.

“She has terminal ovarian cancer,” said her grandson Jacob Williams. “We wanted to be here to support women’s rights and civil rights but also to support her.”

Tanasse has 9 kids and 27 grand and great grandkids. Her extended family had originally planned to attend the Woman’s March in Washington, D.C. But when they learned of her wish, they changed their plans and headed to Washington state instead.

“I can’t ask more than that,” she said.  “I made it and it’s a beautiful day. I hope this is something for all over the world not just here.”


The Women’s March turnout is at 3.3 million and counting

3.3 million.

That’s the estimated number of people who participated in women’s marches in more than 300 cities and towns across the United States on Saturday.

That figure is expected to go up, as it does not yet include data from around 200 towns and cities believed to have hosted marches across the country.
Women and men took to streets across the country, in support of women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights, and civil rights.

Washington, D.C., reportedly had the highest turnout, with 485,000 protesters, a number so large it overwhelmed the official march route, packed the National Mall and other avenues as the mass slowly moved from the U.S. Capitol to the White House. Followed by Los Angeles, with 450,000, and then New York, with 400,000 marchers. Our hometown of Olympia welcomed more than 10,000 marchers.

Women’s marches were also held in cities across the world, including London, Nairobi, Sydney, Mexico City, Athens, Moscow, Tokyo, and Antarctica, to name just a few.

Soup: It’s what’s for dinner


Submitted by: Dana Bowen

Is there anything better than a bowl of delicious homemade soup? How about a homemade soup that cooks itself? Well, here’s one for you, try this Crock Pot Creamy Tomato Soup and not only satisfy your need for homemade comfort, but do it with minimal effort. Enjoy!

Crock Pot Creamy Tomato Soup

Servings: 6  • Size: 1-1/2 cups • Points +: 5 pts • Smart Points: 7 Calories: 177 • Fat: 10 g • Carb: 17 g • Fiber: 3 g • Protein: 8 g • Sugar: 8 g Sodium: 600 mg  • Cholesterol: 21 mg


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup finely diced celery
  • 1 cup finely diced carrots
  • 1 cup finely diced onions
  • 28 oz. can whole plum tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 3 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth (or vegetable for vegetarians)
  • Parmesan or Romano cheese rind (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced fat (2%) milk, warmed
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste


Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add the oil, celery, carrots and onions; cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until golden. Add to slow cooker.

Pour the juice of the tomatoes into the slow cooker, then roughly crush the tomatoes with your hands; add to slow cooker. Then add chicken (or vegetable broth), the cheese rind (if using) thyme, basil, and bay leaf.

Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours, until the vegetables get soft and the flavors blend. Remove the cheese rid and, using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth (or you can carefully do this in small batches in the blender).

Melt the butter over low heat in a large skillet and add the flour. Stir constantly with a whisk for 4 to 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in about 1 cup of the hot soup, then add the 1 3/4 cups of warmed milk and stir until smooth. Pour back into the slow cooker and stir, add the grated Pecorino cheese and adjust salt and pepper, to taste.

Cover and cook on low 30 more minutes.

Makes about 9 1/4 cups.



January is Cervical Health Awareness Month


January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and ICSEW wants you to know that there’s a lot you can do to prevent cervical cancer.

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected. HPV is also a major cause of cervical cancer. Each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer.

The good news?

The HPV vaccine (shot) can prevent HPV. Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests (called Pap tests) and follow-up care.

In honor of National Cervical Health Awareness Month, ICSEW encourages:
Women to start getting regular Pap tests at age 21
Parents to make sure pre-teens get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12

Teens and young adults also need to get the HPV vaccine if they didn’t get it as pre-teens. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine.

Thanks to the health care reform law, you and your family members may be able to get these services at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to learn more.

Did you know?

The FDA has approved a two-dose schedule for the Gardasil HPV vaccine for males and females ages 9-14?

Taking small steps can help keep you safe and healthy.

To learn more visit the National Cervical Cancer Coalition at


First 6-month-old ‘graduate’ from HCA’s Infants at the Workplace program

By: Laurel Bennett, HCA


Anaya Darlene turned 6 months old recently and became the first “graduate” of HCA’s Infants at the Workplace program. Anaya’s mom is Talia Mazzara, HCA (left), and her backup work caretaker is Joanna Gaffney, HCA (right). Eight infants—some not yet born!—have been approved for the program since it began in July this year, with five reporting to the office so far.