Giving back to others and making connections is one of the best feelings in the world. Community Service is so gratifying, if you haven’t done it lately, please give it a try!
Sometimes as you rush through a normal day without knowing it, you may miss an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life or open yourself up to having someone make a difference in your life. Throughout the post I am going to put pictures of notes people left us..it was so rewarding to read these every day and know that we made a difference.
It seems like every day is a rush to get to work, a rush to get through work and then we rush home and rush through the night of cooking, cleaning, laundry, going to ball games, participating in work events or school events to fall in bed only to get up and start all over again.
Wash, rinse, repeat over and over, day after day….until suddenly we look back and ask- have I made a difference to anyone? Have I made real connections with other people?
Grinding through life without stopping to make connections that will make a difference to us or someone else today or tomorrow…I don’t know about you but I do not want to be that person.
This poem was left for us by a guy that came in almost every day to dental. This is why giving back is so gratifying..I know it is long but if you read anything in this post, please read this.
As we stand in line at the grocery store, Walmart, or the DMV we each have an opportunity to reach out and make a difference in someone’s life. Even such a small gesture as helping lift something, taking a cart back to rack for someone, opening a door with a smile and a greeting could just make a difference in someone’s life.
I was lucky enough this week to meet numerous people that have made a difference in my life. As a Navy Reservist, I am often afforded the opportunity to participate in IRT’s or Individual Readiness Training. For 2 weeks, a group of Reservist’s usually from Army, Navy, and Air Force participate in a training in an area of the country that is in need of support such as medical, dental and optometry. Often there is also a Vet component that comes as well.
So, what does this group of professionals do for 2 weeks? We work and work and get to know new people and make connections. We get to catch up with old friends from deployments or other Annual Training events.
We leave our families, we miss birthdays, anniversaries, first days of school. Often, we have to leave our children with other relatives if we are a single parent family. Leaving our professional jobs for 2 weeks can also be stressful as well.
While this seems like a burden, and at times during that 2 weeks we may have had our moments, it is people like Anne, and Linda and Bob and all the volunteers and the community of Hayesville NC who made it worthwhile.
From the very first day the volunteers were so friendly and helpful, we truly could not have functioned as well nor could we have seen the numbers of people we saw without them. Day after day and giving up their weekends, they came out to the school and helped us. This picture is only 4 of the many that helped us-I wish I had a picture of them all!
Hayesville High School
Hayesville High School is quite a gem. I was so impressed with all they have to offer their students. For one thing, it is one campus for all grades, you do not see that very often anymore. When I walked in the Life skills or Home Economics class and I saw 4 different kitchens with full ovens and sinks and full set up for tables. It was such a fun room, I can only imagine how much the students enjoy it too.
They also had a room with hospital beds, my understanding is the students can graduate with a CNA certificate and it sets them up for nursing school. What a great set of skills for students to learn. Back in my day of high school, let’s say the mid 80’s there was an option for the last two years of high school to go to Vocational school, this is similar to that- but the students get to stay on the school campus.
Not only do they have kitchens and hospital wards, they have airplane simulators—ok maybe I have been out of school for over 30 years…but really how many schools have simulators in them, and offer the ability for students to get their pilots license before their driver’s license????
Now as a parent with three girls who all totaled or wrecked cars in high school I have to say, the thought of them flying an airplane absolutely terrifies me…in fact, even now their driving still terrifies me…😊
Navy Reserve AT’s
So 106 of us working Reservists came in and took over the school, we lived in the classrooms, we ate in the cafeteria, we showered in their locker rooms..we played on the gym floor and basically returned to high school. For those of you who have nightmares about this…rest assured sleeping on cots most assuredly gave us rough night’s sleep.
Medical, optometry, vets and dental set up shop in several classrooms, and the desks were lined up in the hallways. During the day I walked through the hallways and spoke with many people.
During this two weeks, I met many Reservists and so many Hayesville community members and surrounding area residents that were so amazing…I know it sounds corny but the residents were so wonderful- I enjoyed speaking with them. One couple I talked a with mentioned the book “ One Second After”, and how scary it is that and EPM could actually happen with one couple. We stood and talked for an hour about survivalist methods and steps they have taken to make preparations.
I found this fascinating because I love this book, and love talking with people about it- but so few have read it I don’t get the opportunity often. If you have not read this book, please take a moment and read it. Trust me once you start you won’t be able to put it down.
Another person that really touched me was Anne, it was like I had known her all my life!
Ann happened to be sitting outside of optometry one day and I stopped to say hi, she was very sweet and when I saw her in line for dental the next day I stopped again. She asked me where I was from and we had a long conversation about life in S. Korea. Anne was very sharp and asked a lot of pertinent questions about the political climate. We spoke for a while and she mentioned her pups were in the car…this caused me alarm as it was a really hot day. We convinced her to take her dogs home, and bring them back the next day. We assured her she would still be seen in Dental that day and so she took her pups home and returned.
When she returned the next day, I helped her as she had 4 large rambunctious dogs. We sat for a couple of hours while we waited for her turn, and I learned a lot about Anne. She was an English teacher, and her favorite book was the Count of Monte Cristo. She told me about the story and why she liked it, it was such a joy to talk with her and see her face light up when she was talking about the book. I remember they made a movie about the book, but I am hoping to read this classic next, once I finish my current book.
Anne was a very special lady and had I not stopped to talk with her that first day I would have missed out on the opportunity to meet a very sweet lady. This kind of connection would not have happened in my normal day to day life.
Anne’s brother has a glass-blowing shop – if you are looking for beautiful hand blown glass stop in and visit them! Goldhagen Art Glass, they are located at 7 Goldhagen Studio Drive Hayesville NC 28904. 828-389-8847. Or visit their website at http://www.goldhagenartglass.com
Though my job is to talk with people –yes that is a big part of my daily job…I really felt a connection with Anne and I am glad I had the opportunity to just sit and chat with her. When was the last time you sat for over an hour and just talked with a stranger- in retrospect how about our spouses, our kids?? We don’t really do this anymore…we are so busy with life that sometimes the basic human motions—like stopping and talking with someone, giving them our time, giving them our full undivided attention…well speaking for myself it doesn’t happen very often. I have major squirrel syndrome and am always going in 5 different directions at once.
The next person I met was Linda, let me tell you my first impression was “who is this woman who is taking the best position on this IRT”… IRT’s are an opportunity for Reservists to really take on leadership opportunities and build up their evaluations…this is what gets us promoted…I had hoped to have the LPO position.
When I initially saw the manning document, I was the only HM1..so I believed that I would have the lead role…then when I heard that Linda was getting that position..I will not lie, my competitive inner person rose up and said…”who the hell is this woman taking my leadership position??”. For the first day, I stewed on this…who was this other HM1?? I watched her from afar and observed her interactions with the other navy corpsman…I could find no fault, she was exhibiting characteristics of a great LPO.
Then Linda came down to get my itinerary…and we talked for a minute-then we talked some more and I realized…I could really like Linda…we actually have a lot in common… We are both over 50, we have a similar sense of humor…our common connection though was so random…it sealed the deal for me…
I was talking about how I got my job in Korea, I mentioned I was hired by COL Linck…and Linda looks at me and says “Stephen”…I looked at her in shock…well yes… that was the COL that hired me…turns out Linda worked for him at Ft. Hood…it is such a small military world…at this point any reservations I had about Linda were gone…we had a common bond…though I haven’t seen COL Linck in over a year he just keeps giving back to me..:)
So putting everything aside, I embraced Linda with open arms and …I let go of my competitive side and…this ended up being the best thing I could have done. I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of my AT and Linda and I worked together to ensure the enlisted members were showing up for muster on time and not wearing Batman pajama pants to the cafeteria for breakfast😊
Bob and the American Legion
Another person that I connected with was Bob. Bob is a member of the American Legion in Hayesville which offered us 3 dinners while we were in Hayesville. The first night we were there Bob came and sat down beside me and said, “Hi, I’m Bob and I turn 90 next week.” What an opening line, I have to admit Bob had game, and well he was cute for an 89 year old!
Bob told me he used to be a Navy CS—that would be a cook. I talked with Bob for a while that night, he told me about all his different jobs he has had and it gave me some insight into what a neat man Bob was…
Fast forward a couple of days later and Bob and I are sitting and chatting again… he punked me pretty good that night as he told me about how he dresses in his Revolutionary war uniform and walks in the parade each year…ok…so in my defense, I saw a picture of him in this uniform and was running dates in my head all night…was this really possible???
Ok, for most of you the answer is no…he was not in the revolutionary war…for me, I had to check with my husband…who confirmed, 90 is not old enough for serving in that particular war…I’m claiming a blonde moment on that one😊
Anyways, Bob is now my bud, he is married as am I so we will leave it at that 😊…I told my mom I had a 90-year-old boyfriend and she accused me of dipping into her dating pool…lol I joined the American Legion post #0532 because Bob asked me too. I got Tom to join too, I kind of totally peer pressured him into it…if you are interested let me know and I will send you an application. The members of the American Legion were awesome and I am proud to be a member!
So we had the opportunity to do a few things in Hayesville, one being eating at Angelo’s restaurant…the first night we went in we were so excited to have pizza… we were very disappointed to hear that their ovens were obligated for over an hour when we got there with pre-ordered pizzas…I was sold on the Caprese salad from the moment I saw it on the menu…so we renegotiated the pizza to manicotti…and that was a great choice..
The waitress was a little busy but we got our food in a timely manner and it was awesome! The manicotti was way more to eat in one meal and we saved ½ for another night. It was just as good two nights later!
We chose to eat there again another night and had the pizza. Tom did not want thin crust and we did but the crust was a happy medium…I only had 1 piece of Linda’s pizza but it was greatness..if you are driving through this little town please stop in here and have a fantastic meal.
Clay County Historical and Arts Museum
Walking back from Angelo’s there is a building that used to be a jail, it was closed but they opened it again another night for us and we made sure to make go and see it. It is called the “Clay County Historical and Arts Museum”. This is housed in the Old County Jail which was originally constructed in 1912 and used as the jail until 1972.
The Museum is a rare collection of Cherokee baskets, quilts, masks and other carvings with a life size hand carved model of a Cherokee basket weaver. The Museum is a great walk into the past and I had continual flashbacks of my grandparent’s farm in Ohio to include the door knobs and locking mechanisms. (ok for clarification they did not have a jail cell in their farm house!)
Linda, Tom and I walked into the Museum one night after dinner, we were told the Museum was going to stay open later that evening so that we could all go by and see it, rumor had it there was a working still on the second floor that could still work! Who doesn’t want to check that out…
So after dinner, we walked into the Museum, we did not see anyone when we walked inside and so we started walking around each of the different rooms. Linda and I soon got separated from Tom and found our way upstairs…as we walked through we turned on lights and examined each room. I was in memory heaven…so much in this house reminded me of my Grandparents farm house, the one room even smelled like it!
Suddenly we turned a corner and found the employee that was locking up the place, basically, we almost got locked in the jail! I can’t imagine how that phone call would have gone with the Chief…
“Hi Chief, we need to be sprung from the jail- not the real jail the museum jail!!” The volunteer gave us a first-class tour and explained so many of the items that were in the little house.
Cherokee History Trail Quanassee Path
Outside the building there is the Cherokee History Trail Quanassee Path, this is a Cherokee Homestead Exhibit and was filled with interesting buildings and a wall full of interesting pictures, buildings and words in Cherokee.
Town of Hayesville Centennial Exhibit
On another night, we visited the Town of Hayesville Centennial Exhibit. This is located on Sanderson St and is right next to the post office. Staffed by volunteers from the Clay County Communities Revitalization Association this exhibit is filled with town history. The room I found most moving was the military room filled with WWI and WWII memorabilia and every war since then. They have pictures of families who have served…grandfathers, fathers, and sons…many generations. It was very cool to see how many families have such a strong military affiliation. And as a bonus, I got to see Bob’s picture as a young Navy man!!
So my 2 week AT this year was a fantastic experience and I met some lovely very special people who I hope to see again in the future! I had no idea North Carolina was such a beautiful state and I am glad I got to meet all the volunteers and the wonderful people of Hayesville! We were able to venture out one day of our 2 weeks and we went to Helen Georgia, a quaint German town read about our day in Alpine Helen.
If you are looking for a vacation spot and you are driving through Hayesville, stop in and visit the places I have listed above- you will not be disappointed and you may make some meaningful connections as well!