Ask Melaney Hamby how she learned about the value of work and she’s likely to tell about the 97-year-old neighbor who paid her to pick up litter around the neighborhood when she was five years old. “He taught me earning money wasn’t easy,” but it can be rewarding, a lesson she has applied to a life that earned her “40 Under Forty” recognition.

Another lesson she learned, this time as a junior in high school, was that passion can have life-long results. She became a single mother, then briefly married to the baby’s father before completing her education and holding two part-time jobs. A positive side of starting young is that Melaney and “the love of my life” whom she married in 10 years ago have now raised three children to be happy, healthy and self-sustaining adults. They accomplished “empty neste” status before age 37 years.

”I love feeling needed and wanted,” says Hamby, “(and) I love helping others.” That she does as a chamber of commerce ambassador, member of Tacoma Executive Association and local Eagles Aerie service fraternity, as well a Toastmaster member.

Melaney Hamby is also a 16-year employee and billing manager for a Tacoma physical therapy practice that has at least two other “40 Under Forty” alumni including her boss, who nominated her.

Robert Oesch also began his career at the ground level unboxing new computer cases that were headed to an assembly line, where others got the fun job of putting the good stuff in them. Motivated to move up, he looked for a tech job with more responsibility, and you’d have to say that he found it as assistant director of South Sound 911.

Of course, there were several stops in between, but Rob arrived at Tacoma-Pierce County’s joint public safety dispatch operation as it was forming up to serve 41 different agencies.  And he was the project manager who coordinated internal and external teams that had not worked together before.

“I’m passionate about breaking the mold by looking for unconventional opportunities,” Oesch says. “ 'Fail fast' and 'be easy on the people, but hard on the process' ” are two important lessons he has learned.

His nominator calls Robert Oesch “a shining example of a selfless leader and positive force in the community (who) exudes and demonstrates positivity.” That sounds like a worthy honoree for 2017 “40 Under Forty” recognition.

Kristy King, owner of the Olympia franchise of Fit4Mom, says she was lost in high school, struggling to find her niche, where she fit in. An early mentor introduced her to an environmental group, where she learned from him about Teaching, Nurturing and Trusting people to do their part. He likely also encouraged her pursuit of a graduate degree in environmental studies in Olympia.

For this “40 Under Forty” honoree, those lessons have been long-lasting, as she is most passionate today about Teaching. Now, as the mom of two kids, vice-chair of a pre-school co-op, past volunteer instructor with Mad Science of South Sound and in her small business, it is a common thread.

“I am absolutely floored by how much I’ve learned from children, from classmates, from other women, from mentors and from everyone in between,” King says. “The cycle of teaching, learning and communicating is beautiful and, for me, is what life is all about.”

Meet Kristy King, Robert Oesch and Melaney Hamby, as well as 37 other remarkable members of 2017’s 40 Under Forty cohort at the celebration of their honors on Wednesday, October 11, at Foss Waterway Seaport in downtown Tacoma. It begins with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. and the recognition program will conclude before 8 o’clock.  Tickets will be available at this link.