A Hallmark Hometown: The Hospitable Realities of Smalltown Appalachia

I’m from Turkey Creek, Kentucky. You’ve probably never heard of it. If you have, it’s probably because of a news story about the ongoing opioid epidemic in the area or the diminishing coal economy that once flourished there.


Just as any other place, we have problems. Our problems occur on a larger scale than most places which is why they get so much attention. However, our hospitality and kindness also occur on a much larger scale than most places as well- yet it never receives the attention it deserves.  


Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia is often depicted as a damsel in distress waiting to be saved by some outside source that will revive our economy, feed our hungry, house our homeless and save our addicted. The source of our salvation doesn’t lie outside the mountains. It lives within them. It lives within the people who call Appalachia home.


As I traveled home for my first winter break, I saw this reality firsthand. I volunteered with a local church to make fruit baskets for the needy. It was moving to see great people doing great things for a community in need. I know it is a simple task, but it helps a great deal with a problem they come in contact with almost every day. This is just one example of the amazing people who do things to move Appalachian communities forward.


As I continue to do community service in Lexington, my mind keeps revisiting the amazing community service experiences I had at home. I did everything from working with our local Relay for Life to helping staff our first local comic convention. These were small acts that made a big difference in bringing the kind of attention our community deserves.


Back home, groups such as the Tug Valley Area CVB and Williamson Foward are continuously striving to break the stereotypes surrounding Appalachia through positive events, just like the ones I have previously volunteered for. Give their Facebook a like to stay up to date on these kinds of events!


However, community projects and programs aren’t the only things that can bring this kind of positive light to Appalachia: you can. As the new year ensues, I encourage each and every one of you to go out and become engaged in the positive aspects of your community. Get involved with a cause you care about. Make a difference. Break the stereotype. Appalachia is more than what the media covers, and it is in your hands to prove that.


Make Appalachian towns Hallmark hometowns, the town everyone wants to visit simply because of the positivity and positive people that live there.