Local Voices

Community is our Backbone

In a time when a small town is shattered by violence toward its most precious asset, and babies nationwide are under threat of formula shortages, it is impossible to underestimate the power of community.

The tragedy in Texas belongs to other voices to tell. We salute them and send solidarity as their stories unfold and their arms go around one another.

Community is how rural people survive challenge. Being part of a community is not a “soft skill.” Like the mountains that surround our towns here in Southwest Virginia, community gives us backbone. And hope. And solutions.

In the baby formula shortage, people in my rural town are texting one another: this brand is at this store. I just found X at Y.

They can’t buy them for each other, because WIC vouchers don’t transfer, plus most stores have limits. So they do the best they can with the location and time alerts. With the high price of gas, when the “it’s at this place” message comes, a couple of neighborhood groups will share gas prices in a single van ride to the store some 40 minutes away.

This is a place to be proud of, these strong, kind towns and hamlets that make up Southwest Virginia. We’re all in this thing called life together. Community is our watchword, and our go-to. We don’t take it lightly. If you are lucky enough to be studying here, don’t miss the opportunity to understand this life force in action. It will change your life.

Wendy Welch, PhD
GMEC Director

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