This glorious week of serving and learning in Appalachia has come to and end. We will forever share a bond with our team leaders and each other. Thank you for letting me share this experience with you.
First, we learned about coal, the people who mined it, and then had the chance to get up close and personal with an actual coal mine, albeit one geared to today’s tourist. We will look back at the New River Gorge, coming together as friends, laughing, winding roads, great food, meeting new friends at Oak Hill, learning about West Virginia, and did I mention, eating. We were inspired by the stories of the local families, team members, as well as Sharon and Vickie, the sisters at the Oak Hill School. We learned firsthand the meaning of demanding physical labor and how hard some people have to work to get by. We were saddened by the devastating disease that many accept as a part of that hard work.
We remember Mt. Hope, Ansted, Rosedale, and the after-school program at SALS and the brilliant human potential in those young faces. We will not forget SALS, NIOSH, Oak Hill, the breathing center and rehab, CPR classes, Walmart and Subway. We enthusiastically embraced the opportunity this tiny Appalachian holler gave us as a safe place to live, learn, work and bond for one short week.
Our actual time here serving and learning may have been short, but the memory of our time will live forever. Hopefully, these country roads will one day take us back to the place we can now call home, West Virginia.