Community work shows what makes region special

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 9, 2007

What makes Lawrence County so special? That’s easy: The people who call it home.

Although I may not be born and bred here, I grew up in nearby Gallia County and spent lots of time in Lawrence County, so I know a little about the small-town charm that makes me proud to call this region home.

But, sometimes I am still impressed with how caring and selfless many people in this region are when it comes to making their community better places to live.

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A quick read through the newspaper shines a light on a handful of individuals who are trying to make a difference, each in their own way.

And a group from Proctorville has shown that it’s a man’s world — a wo-man’s world, that is.

A dozen female employees from the Proctorville Animal Clinic have traded in their syringes and dog collars for tool belts and hammers by helping build a home for Habitat for Humanity.

These women don’t know the family moving into the Huntington, W.Va., home but they wanted to do something that they felt mattered.

That type of selflessness is admirable and cannot always be as easily found away from the close-knit communities of Appalachia.

“Wonderful experience, wonderful,” said volunteer Sarah Whitt of Scottown. “This house is built with so much love and so much good energy.”

Those are commodities that are hard to measure and impossible to replace.

But these women aren’t alone, not by a longshot.

The Symmes Valley Vikings girls’ volleyball team decided they wanted to take on a powerful opponent that shows no mercy — cancer.

The team traded in their crimson uniforms for a lighter shade of pink as they joined in a statewide effort to “Volley for a Cure.”

Designed to raise awareness and money, bringing this event to southern Ohio shows tremendous character by head coach Mary Bowling and each of the student-athletes who participated.

Juggling academics with athletics and personal lives can be daunting enough, but the willingness to be involved shows that there is more to life than just wins and losses.

Want to see some proof that partnerships and community efforts can make the difference? Visit the Symmes Creek Boat Dock in Chesapeake.

Dozens of volunteers worked with Grayson Thornton and the Symmes Creek Restoration Committee to turn the rundown, unusable ramp into a viable Ohio River access point.

But they couldn’t have done it alone.

Partly because they were inspired by the passion and commitment shown by this group, a variety of organizations have followed the lead.

The Lawrence-Scioto Solid Waste District, the Lawrence County Commissioners, the Wayne National Forest, Ohio University Southern, the National Wild Turkey Federation and Lawrence County judges David Payne and Donald Capper have all made a commitment to see this project stay on track.

Everyone involved with these three activities should be able to look in the mirror and smile, knowing that they are trying to make a difference by being involved and doing the right thing for the right reasons.

And this is only a snapshot of all the people in our community who give back. The problem is that the unique qualities that make these people get involved also makes them shy away from attention.

But that is exactly why we want to tell their stories. Do you know someone who changes lives and makes a difference in our community? Let us know who it is so we can give some much-deserved recognition.

Lawrence County’s wonderful people and its compassionate spirit are the region’s best-kept secrets, but one that needs let out of the bag.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at