My summer has not worked out exactly how I planned. My son and I traveled north to visit with my mom, what a cutie she is! We spent some time at the beach and visited some sites we had on our “list”. We came back to Virginia in early July and the heat and surprising new business (yeah!) have kept us busy since then.
Until Tuesday, when I was invited to join a new friend, Dewey Houck, on a visit to West Virginia, to his home town. On first glance, Dewey is an intelligent southern gentleman. Then you talk with him just a bit more to find he is a man possessed by a mission to serve. He is driven to make a positive difference in the region of his origins, the coalfields of southern West Virginia.
We spent the day on a whirlwind tour of places and projects and meeting people who are making things happen! Dewey is the energy behind RAIL, Rural Appalachian Improvement League, based in his home town of Mullens, West Virginia. At the Mullens Opportunity Center, in the old Mullens Elementary School, there is a bustle of activity. Businesses are renting space, other nonprofit groups have offices, there’s a garden growing food, plus an outdoor entertainment center with indoor and outdoor stages. This is also homebase for visiting volunteers who come to provide labor, equipment and funds to local projects.
On Friday, August 6, RAIL is hosting a community health fair at the Mullens Opportunity Center. There’s a flea market and gun show plus health professionals providing checks on blood pressure and information on healthy eating. I’m sure there’s much more going on but like I said in the beginning, my day with Dewey was a whirlwind. We did get to visit one of the major projects receiving attention right now, the historic Mount Grove Baptist Church in Wyco.
I’ll be working with RAIL in the coming months, helping them access funding and other organizational efforts. This is a group doing BIG things, things that need to be done where so many others have looked away. Visit here to make a donation and know any amount will go a very long way to making lives better for the people of southern West Virginia. If you’re traveling in the area, be sure to check out the Coal Heritage Trail.
I’m always surprised what I can learn on a little day trip right in my own backyard…