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05/08/2024 08:30 AM

Kim Bratz: Proudly Serving Westbrook

Kim Bratz will be honored by the Westbrook Republican Town Committee for her service to the town which has seen her serve as tax collector for more than 25 years while also contributing significantly on a volunteer basis. Photo courtesy of Kim Bratz

For over 25 years, Kim Bratz has not only been a familiar face at Westbrook Town Hall, but she’s also been a regular at various volunteer events around town.

For Kim, December 2023 marked 25 years for her as Westbrook’s tax collector—a job she got on whim.

“My neighbor at the time was actually on a committee that was formed to look for the new tax collector. She ran into me one day and asked if I knew anyone who might be interested, and I said, ‘Yeah. Me,’” Kim says with a laugh.

Kim was working as an insurance agent at the time and looking for something a little more permanent to support her family. After asking what was involved as the tax collector, Kim interviewed and was awarded the job. The rest is history.

“I started that year and served the term and, since then, I’ve ran unopposed and been reelected every time,” Kim says.

Kim’s day-to-day duties involve collecting the money that funds the town, sending out reminders for unpaid bills, and making sure all taxes are paid.

“I instantly liked the job. I’ve met so many people I otherwise wouldn’t have met without it,” Kim says.

However, Kim might even be better known around Westbrook for her contributions to the community as a frequent volunteer. Over the years, Kim has served on the juvenile review board, ran Westbrook Youth and Family Services, been on the Police and Traffic Advisory Board and the Local Prevention Council, as well as a number of other community endeavors.

“I just really love it. I love helping people,” Kim says of volunteering.

Currently, Kim is helping out with the Bill’s Seafood Golf Tournament. The tournament will be held in September and offers scholarships to one boy and one girl from local towns. The awards are presented to student-athletes “who have demonstrated positive character, leadership, and good citizenship qualities,” according to Kim.

“I love the event. I volunteer because I love the owners and the people who run it and what it represents. I like that they’re about giving back to the community,” says Kim.

As an organizer, Kim helps collect the money and collects merchandise for the swag bags for the players. Kim also proudly notes that she is participating in the tournament as a golfer in the only all-female foursome.

Kim’s efforts in serving her community over the years have not gone unnoticed. Kim will be receiving an award at the upcoming John Holbrook Awards Dinner on Wednesday, May 15. The award, presented by the Westbrook Republican Town Committee, is annually awarded to a republican in the community who has served the town “with dignity and grace.”

“I was shocked when I found out I was getting the award. They honor such amazing people, I never thought I’d be one of the people getting the award,” Kim says.

While she’s always enjoyed helping others, Kim admits that she became truly passionate about volunteering later in life.

“I would say it was when I started working for the town. I think that serving the town that way, you start to realize what the needs are and wanting to help out more,” Kim says.

As for her favorite parts of volunteering, Kim points to the seeing of a need fulfilled.

“You feel good. It can be a lot of fun, and you’re around amazing people, you get to help others, and you feel good doing it,” Kim says.

Kim grew up in nearby Deep River, but has lived in Westbrook since the mid-1990s.

“We love it here. We found a home we liked, we loved the school system, and we loved the town,” Kim says.

In her spare time, Kim can be found walking, golfing, and boating.

“Anything I can do with family and friends,” says Kim.

Asked about her favorite aspect of Westbrook, Kim points to both the scenery of the town and the people in it.

“I would say we live in such a beautiful town, but it’s also a great supportive community that steps up and supports each other in times of need,” Kim says.