Joe Schmitt writes a weekly blog called The Good Life, featuring information about the region’s history, culture, climate and economy. The blog also showcases new residents, clubs and organizations, outdoor recreational opportunities and local events.
Our New Resident interviews normally follow a question and answer style format, but new resident Julia Krolikowski wrote such a poignant , personal story about how she came to love, and ultimately live, in Yakima I wanted to share it unedited. Please help us welcome Julia:
I grew up in Omaha, NE—home of Warren Buffett, Saddle Creek Records, and the NCAA College World Series. I graduated from Rockhurst University in the spring of 2012. After working a stint as a ball girl for the College World Series, I packed 2 bags and got on a plane headed out west for a year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.
Destination: Yakima. Service Assignment: Yakima Family YMCA.
I moved here knowing no one. I had five assigned “community members” who I was to share everything with—peanut butter, chores, and a bank account. We soon called ourselves the Yakimonsters because we traveled in a pack and felt that we brought vibrant energy every place we went. It wasn’t always emotionally pretty, but Yakima eventually stole our hearts. Some of us found love, some heartbreak, some a passion for a cause, and all of us a stronger sense of adventure and determination.
The year ended, three stayed in Yakima, one went off to graduate school, and I moved home.
Within two months, I was back to visit. I didn’t want to leave.
I wanted to strengthen relationships with friends. I wanted the BIG backyard Yakima offers. I wanted to see what I could do for the community that supported me when I was a stranger.
The name on a map means very little. It’s the people that make a place a home. And Yakima became my second home. The support I received as a volunteer taught me to accept endless amounts of kindness and opportunities with open arms. I quickly learned to let people show me why they loved Yakima. I learned to ski, white water raft, float the Yakima River, hike, name wild flowers, spot a bald eagle, pick fruit, and cook over a campfire. Friendship was no longer just the people in my class. Some of my best friends were Tom and Donna who over time, I’ve started to call my Yakima Grandparents.
By the spring of 2014, I was back in Yakima working at Heritage University as the Director of Alumni Affairs. Yakima opened doors for me professionally that I could not imagine this early on in my career. I was asked to quickly be on the camp committee for the YMCA. I dived into Rotaract, United Way New Leaders, and volunteering for different nonprofit and community events. Yakima leaders and my office valued my opinions and allowed me to ask the tough questions. As an idealistic 25 year old, that is priceless professional development that no conference can achieve.
I have made friends here who have supported me through the toughest times in my life. I know that my weekends will be filled with a combination of outdoor adventures, live music, BBQs, and trying to remember to turn the sprinkler on and water the grass. Here I have been encouraged to learn how to rock climb, garden, and with the help of the Yakima Maker Space, use a table saw.
My life in Yakima is definitely not what I thought it would be when I first drove down Yakima Avenue. I’ve deemed it a starting point (maybe a final point too) for young professionals searching for their passion, searching for their next step, searching to do what they want to do. It’s a whimsical atmosphere with walks though through lavender and hop fields and apple and cherry orchards with local wines and brews in hand and music playing distantly. It’s a place where the community is what makes it a destination. It’s a place that has strengthened my sense of exploration, sense of self, and sense of self-determination.
Welcome to Yakima! What’s my number one piece of advice? Introduce yourself to five people whether it is at Bale Breaker, Gilbert Cellars, Downtown Summer Nights, the Yakima Yoga Collective or a local U-Pick. Invite these five and their friends over for a BBQ (the chances of canceling for rain are low), and the rest is history!