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There is much to be thankful for in this community

By: Lacy Hilliard
Tomahawk Staff Writer/Photographer

Most of my opinion editorials are dedicated to admonishing things I consider to be problematic in today’s society. Calling attention to community dilemmas is my job as both a writer and a member of said society and fortunately I’ve been given a platform to voice issues that I’m passionate about. I’m passionate about a world free of uninspired hate and abundant in tolerance. I’m passionate about education and the importance of investing in the futures of our children. I’m passionate about ending ignorance that breeds unnecessary conflict. I loathe selective stupidity. In the words of John Lennon, “you may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one.” I’m also thankful to live in a community where acts of love and kindness can be witnessed daily. So in this season of thankfulness, I hereby list the good -–the inspiration that keeps me fighting for this community in whatever small way I can.
I’m thankful for good teachers. When I was in high school, my English teacher, Wanda Payne, asked the class if they’d like to go on a field trip to see Appalachian storytellers perform at Barter Theatre. I was the only one that raised my hand. Instead of deciding there wasn’t enough interest to move forward with the trip, Mrs. Payne got permission to take just me. At age 32, I still remember how important that made me feel. I was fortunate enough to come from a good family but for some children, teachers are the only positive role models in their lives and school may be the only place they feel as though there is any hope for the future. I so appreciate the teachers that realize the weight of their influence and work hard to inspire their students. It may mean more than they’ll ever know.
I’m thankful for Flo Bellamy and the JC/MC Community Center. Flo hasn’t any children of her own but there’s no doubt that she is mother to all the children of this community. If you’ve had the privilege of witnessing Flo’s interactions with her children, the love she has for them is as apparent as the love and respect they have for her. Inside jokes and fist bumps are ever present in Flo’s realm, as is a careful vigilance that Flo subtly exercises to ensure the safety and well-being of her the community’s children. For many of them, she’s all they have. And as if her work with the youth of this community isn’t enough, Flo is also a warrior for cancer patients throughout Johnson County. As head of the Johnson County Cancer Support Group, Flo helps with the needs of local cancer patients whatever they may be.
I’m thankful for those individuals and organizations that preserve local heritage and promote artistry and culture. There’s so much talent housed in this little town and thanks to people and organizations like Mike Taylor (a teacher that donates his time to teaching children to play traditional Appalachian instruments and music), Cristy Dunn (a teacher that inspires her students both artistically and personally –she’s also responsible for creating the Musical Heritage Mural Project), and Heritage Hall (an organization and a theater that honors both local traditions and promotes enrichment through offering various cultural experiences) – Johnson County has so much to offer.
Last but certainly not least, I’m thankful for the beauty of Johnson County. I’ll always remember the feeling I had the very first time I came here. In all my travels, no other landscape captivated me quite like these ancient mountains. I’m also thankful to local organizations that work to preserve that natural beauty like the Nature Conservancy – an organization that holds land in magical Shady Valley, which will help ensure that those natural wonders will continue to exist for generations.
There is much to be thankful for in this community and I suppose I’m most thankful that I’m able to be a part of it.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!