Archived Story

People are our biggest asset

Published 11:07am Thursday, March 21, 2013

By Denise Walls, guest columnist

With my job I hear so much about what it is that sets our communities apart from others.

What is so special about us? Inevitably almost everyone says:

“It’s the lake.”

“Lake Martin is the best thing this area has going for it.”

So I have been thinking about this a lot lately. And while I think the ake is great, it’s definitely not a part of my daily life. I don’t live on the lake, I don’t own a cabin on the lake (unfortunately) – I don’t even own a boat!

So what is it – for me anyway – that makes this area so special? Driving into town this morning, thinking about all of this, I realized what it is.

For me it is the people.

During my drive every morning, I pass by the Community Center in Hackneyville, where just this past Saturday we had a fund-raiser for our Volunteer Fire Department. The members of our Volunteer Fire Department are some special people! They VOLUNTEER to run into burning buildings for goodness sake!

Saturday night I was sitting there thinking about how grateful I am to have grown up in this small community with all of these wonderful people that were sitting around me supporting our fire department. These people stop me at the store and ask how my mom and dad are, they ask how my kids are doing and tell me how pretty my girls are. I know that if my family ever needed them, they would be there. They have proven that to us so many times.

Next each morning, my drive takes me to Horseshoe Bend where my oldest daughter goes to school. So I thought about her teacher, Mrs. Susan Cowhick, this person with whom I leave my daughter every day. This person has devoted her professional life to spending all day with 20 7-year-old kids. And she is an amazing person, an amazing teacher. My daughter loves her. I drop her off and I go to work and I don’t worry about her.

Then I drive into Alex City and I take my youngest daughter to Jacob’s Ladder. And again, I drop her off knowing that Miss Amber, Miss Ashley, Miss Kim and all the other wonderful people at Jacob’s Ladder will take care of her. They love on her and hug her and essentially play the role of mother until I go pick her up every day. And again, I go to work and I don’t worry about her.

How great is that? This one thing that I take for granted every day – that I can go to work and not worry about my kids, who are absolutely my whole world, because I know that they are with people I trust – people I know genuinely care about my kids.

So then I drive to CACC, where my office is, where I go to work, and I think about these people I work with – not just my two co-workers Don and Sandra, who happen to be two of the most dedicated, caring and hard working people that I know – but all of these people that I meet with and talk business to every single day.

I think about all of the council and commission people, our board members who volunteer their time, our boards of education and the business people around town with whom we work. They all may not always be on the same page and they might have different ideas and concerns. But the one thing that they all have in common is that they care about our communities.

They care about Alex City. They care about Dadeville and Hackneyville and New Site and Daviston and Camp Hill and Jacksons Gap. They care. They may not have all the answers, but they care about finding the answers, they are doing something, trying to move forward. They are caring.

And I think about the instructors here at CACC. The ones like Mike Mann, Barry Duck and Danny James who I personally see every day stop and take the time to talk to their students, to help them decide what classes they should be taking, to help them with scholarship applications, to help them find a job, and so on and so on. They care.

I think about all the other people in this community that walk in and out of my life daily. Dr. Tyler, who sits patiently and answers all of my questions because he knows that I am an over protective mom; Daniel at Carlisle Drug who thought that the prescription that the doctor called in for my mom might be too expensive, so he offered to call the doctor and see if he could change it; that bagboy at Piggly Wiggly who always offers my daughter a quarter for the chicken machine when I fib and say I don’t have one.

And you know what the best thing is? I am not special. I’m sure if you stop and think about it, you have people in your life who you work with, go to church with – people that care. It doesn’t matter if you live in Hackneyville, or New Site or Alex City, or whether your kids go to a county school or to school in Alex City. You know these people who teach our children, fill your prescriptions and ask you how your parents or your children are doing.

You know people who care.

You are a person who cares.

So yes, there are lots of things that about this area that make it special. But I think the “thing” that has kept us afloat during these last few years when things went from bad to worse wasn’t some special landmark that everyone loved and wanted to visit. That “thing” was our people. You, me and our neighbors who said, “You know what, this is where I want to raise my children, this is where I want to go to church, this is where I want my children to go to school – Where people know us and love us and care about us.”

This is my home and you people are my family, my friends. You are the reason that I stayed even when it might have been easier to go. YOU are what makes the Lake Martin area special.

So please don’t give up or be discouraged. Yes, things have changed. But that doesn’t mean that we hang our heads and give up. Because you know what? … everybody struggles. Every community struggles. But personally, I wouldn’t want to do it anywhere else.

Walls is a guest columnist for The Outlook.