Fourteen years ago I was a recently divorced, single mom with two small children, trying to figure out where I wanted to raise my kids. After college, I had lived in Lexington, Louisville, and Cincinnati and still had many good friends there. There were multiple options where I could go and already have friends and support, but deep in my heart I wanted to come home. Huntington, WV, after all those years, was still where I considered home. I wanted my kids to have what I had growing up here — friendships that last a lifetime, the “village” it takes to raise your kids, and a compassionate community.

    As soon as I moved back, I reconnected with old friends, and it was like I had never left. Through my kids I started making new friends, and they became my village. A childhood friend invited me into her book club. That Book Club and the “village” are my new Huntington friendships that will last a lifetime.

    Through my grandmother and my aunt, I have a strong sense of community. Two more of my childhood friends got me on a couple of boards and I became very involved at my kids’ school, which led to a part-time job at Huntington East Middle School where I was a Parent Partner. This is where I really began to see the compassion of Huntington.

    At the school I saw the need and started a food and clothing pantry. The community support was unbelievable. The pantry received hundreds of pounds of food, bag after bag of clothes, and hundreds of volunteer hours. Huntington was there no matter what the need or when it was needed.

    I am now the Executive Director for Little Victories Animal Rescue Shelter, a no-kill rescue. The community support for these abandoned animals is greater than I ever imagined. We have volunteers who come out and walk dogs and local businesses that pay their employees to come out to paint or give the dogs baths. When we have an unusual vet expense and reach out, Huntington comes through.

    #MyHuntington is a place I am proud to show my friends from around the country when they come to visit. They are impressed with our unique restaurants and shops, our museum, the Keith-Albee Theatre, and, of course, the Marshall Campus. And they are amazed at the generosity of the people I tell them about.

    Thank you to #MyHuntington for proving I made the right choice to come home.