MUKILTEO, WA – It is no surprise that the team at Diamond Knot Craft Brewing has concern for the many people affected by the fire devastation in Eastern and Central Washington. What was a surprise to some of the team was that one of its own was over on the other side of the state helping with the coordinated fire efforts.
Cody Chrisman, a member of the Washington Air National Guard, was called into action in August with his Guard unit to provide security in and around Nespelem, Wash. after families evacuated their homes on the Colville Reservation. He said he spent almost three weeks talking with people while making sure no one was looting the vacated homes; learning more about the hardships they were facing. He wasn’t trained in fighting wildland fires before leaving, but wanted to help any way he could.
“I had been requesting to go for a while,” Chrisman said. “It was difficult work. We would wake up and not be able to see our arms in front of us. It was that smoky. I still wake up with dry eyes and a sore throat. I don’t know how they [fire fighters] do it.”
What was really difficult for Chrisman was watching people who couldn’t afford to evacuate, realizing that they could possibly lose a piece of land passed down to them through many generations on the reservation.
“They are such humble people,” he said of the residents and tribal police. “I learned a lot. It was a great experience; something I will never forget. What I really learned is the real heroes are the fire fighters.”
Chrisman got to meet fire fighters from around the globe – Australia, England and British Columbia – who were there to fight fires. He was originally supposed to be in Eastern Washington for 40 days, but was relieved of duty when 150 “red carded” Army troops arrived to not only secure the area, but also work the fire lines.
So, Cody returned to his kitchen position at the Diamond Knot Brewery & Alehouse. The 20-year-old started working with Diamond Knot in May as a host, but quickly moved into the kitchen after realizing that is where he wanted to work. In his military life he remains a Finance Technician with the Air Force, stationed in Camp Murray just outside of Tacoma.
When Major General Daugherty from the Joint Force Headquarters sent a letter thanking Diamond Knot as an employer for supporting its staff member’s “mobilization on State Active Duty to assist with firefighting efforts,” there was an immediate call to action.
Daugherty wrote, “The success or our organization relies on the partnership of those who employ our Soldiers and Airmen. Your support is incredibly valued, and I consider you part of our team that ensures our Neighbors are taken care of.”
Diamond Knot President Bob Maphet understands the impact local businesses can make when they choose to help their communities. It wasn’t long ago that Maphet personally drove a $20,000 check over to Darrington to help support the OSO relief efforts.
“We knew we were going to donate to the relief efforts, but because of the overwhelming nature of the needs, we were still in the process of deciding where to give,” Maphet said. “We opened the letter and were so moved, knowing that one of our own crew members was on the line. We made a decision right away.”
The company had already embarked on a fundraiser this summer to support the Mukilteo Fire Fighters Benevolent Fund through the sales of a limited release beer – Beach House Blonde Ale, which was a reference to Station #24 affectionately nicknamed The Beach House. One dollar from each bottle sold will be donated to the fund that helps community members with the needs not always associated with fire loss.
In response to Daugherty’s letter, the Diamond Knot team decided this week to donate an additional $1 per Beach House Blonde bottle sold to the NCW Fire Relief Fund that is supporting efforts in the Chelan Valley and Okanogan Complex fires, which includes the North Star Fire and Tunk Block Complex
“We want to get these donations out to the community as soon as possible,” said Sherry Jennings, Dir. of Sales & Marketing at DK. “This will mean several thousand dollars between the two funds, both benefitting the communities they serve.
“We are so proud of Cody for getting out there and then sharing his incredible story with us,” Jennings said. “I hope it inspires others to give, too. We’ve been in the community long enough now to be connected to these events by very few degrees of separation. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by these tragedies, as well as those affected by the incidents that happen here in Mukilteo. Large or small, they are difficult.”
How You Can Help: Buy Beach House Blonde Bottles This Weekend at Diamond Knot
Diamond Knot will open its walk-in doors at its Production Brewery & Taproom located at 4602 Chennault Beach Road, B2, Mukilteo; Friday and Saturday at 3 p.m. for those wishing to purchase bottles and/or cases of Beach House Blonde Ale. The Taproom is open until 8 p.m. both days. There are also bottles for sale at the Brewery & Alehouse on the Mukilteo waterfront, as well as the Brewpub @ MLT in Mountlake Terrace.
For more information about the NCW Fire Relief Fund, visit www.cfncw.org/firerelieffund.