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Joy Mizushima’s monthly poems add whimsy to reminders of common workplace hazards.

By Hilary Reeves

TOTE Maritime Alaska’s Joy Mizushima is a born artist.

“I grew up in Okinawa, in a military environment,” she said, of the Japanese island first occupied by the U.S. military in 1945. “There was only one English-speaking channel, and it belonged to the military, so I watched the Japanese channels. I spoke English to my father, a Japanese-American from Hawaii, and Japanese to my mother. I grew up differently from most of my Hawaiian relatives.”

Mizushima grew up wanting to be a commercial artist, but accepted her first job in the shipping industry with ZIM Container, an Israeli company, as an import documentation clerk. She later worked for Hyundai, SeaLand, and lastly, Maersk, in the international containerized shipping industry until 2008 when Maersk Seattle closed.

Mizushima currently works as an Invoicing Specialist for TOTE Maritime Alaska.

“I’m in a three-people department where everyone is trained to do everything,” she said. “The invoicing department handles all accessorial billing, including detention and storage charges. A typical day involves pre-auditing the invoices that each of us creates. Most people think that we only invoice, but there are a lot of tasks involved. My greatest challenge is working with three offices – Federal Way, Tacoma, and Anchorage – in order to accomplish my goals.

Though Mizushima works in an office environment, her poetry on the topic of workplace safety garnered a 2018 Safety Award nomination.

Winter is Here, by Joy Mizushima
The grounds have begun to freeze,
It’s frosty weather with a bit of breeze,
Check your tires to make sure that it’s not bald or worn,
Change to new ones before a blowout or your tires are torn,
Watch out for icy sidewalks and black ice on the street,
Be extra careful as this warning is worth reiteration or repeat,
Remember black ice is a major cause of slip and fall incident days,
Following the weather report and the meteorologist often pays,
Pack an emergency kit with blankets, protein bars and water too,
If you regularly travel as a family – have a larger kit or even two,
Be safe especially during the holidays when the freeways are full of cars,
If you’re coming home after 2 a.m.  – watch out for drunken drivers exiting the bars,
Wishing you a Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s,
Make sure that you are safe all year round and get along with your peers.
Happy Holidays!

“As a part of my 2018 personal goals, I wrote monthly safety poems,” she said. “I write poetry for all occasions. I’ve written many retirement poems at TOTE.”

Mizushima serves on the company’s Safety Spotlight Team, a group of people who write weekly safety highlights on various topics. The highlights are distributed to the three offices and also displayed on large in-office monitors. She also volunteers and organizes TOTE’s involvement with Emergency Food Network’s Mother Earth Farm Adopt-a-Row program.

“This is a commitment from March to September 2019,” she explained. “TOTE volunteers help plant, fertilize, weed, and harvest kale to supply the food banks in Pierce County. It’s been a great experience to work with fellow employees for a great cause. For every hour we volunteer, TOTE gives money to EFN. It makes me really proud to be part of an organization that values our volunteer work.”

Mizushima said she’s most proud of her son, whom she raised as a single mother, and also of reaching her goal of earning a bachelor’s degree before he graduated from high school.

“I received my Bachelor of Science in Management from Pepperdine in April of 1998, and my son graduated from high school in June of 1998,” she said. “Although I didn’t become an artist, I’ve been able to use my drawings and poetry at TOTE. TOTE’s assets are not just the vessels but the people.”

TOTE Maritime Alaska Invoicing Specialist Joy Mizushima is one of 10 nominees for the 2018 Saltchuk Safety Awards, awarded annually to an individual responsible for an innovative idea that improves safety behaviors and to an individual who displays distinguished service with regard to safety.

Hilary Reeves

Hilary Reeves spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining the Saltchuk family of companies as a consultant. Since People of Saltchuk launched in 2014, Reeves has interviewed more than 200 Saltchuk employees from operating companies all over the world. Born in Tacoma, Washington, Reeves is a former president of both the collegiate and local professional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists, a graduate of the Society’s Ted Scripps Leadership Institute, and a Toastmaster. When she’s not writing, she loves to read, ski, and practice the piano. She lives in West Seattle with her husband and two young daughters.