2016-17 Jean O’Connor-Snyder Intern Brittany Grady reflects on her experience living and learning in Jasper.
I had the pleasure of actively listening, learning, and engaging in Jasper, Alabama, this summer. I worked with Jasper Main Street, a nonprofit dedicated to revitalizing downtown, for two months.
In addition to performing my tasks with Main Street, I attended multiple meetings and events, including the Jasper Chamber of Commerce Annual Breakfast, the Nonprofit University sponsored by the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville, a joint meeting with the Jasper Rotary and Kiwanis Club, with special guest Justice Lyn Stuart, and several city council meetings.
I am so grateful for the skills and real-word experience I gained in Walker County. Being granted the opportunity to live and work here allowed me to develop a new viewpoint on community engagement. The variety of people and organizations dedicated to improving the community is a remarkable resource most would envy.
Being granted the opportunity to live and work here allowed me to develop a new viewpoint on community engagement.
As I learned and participated in civic life, I fell deeply in love with Jasper. I discovered this diverse community cannot be defined by one type of person or lifestyle. The dramatic growth and transformation here seems to be a triumph of strategic planning that can be a model for others.
My time in Walker County has been filled with excitement, curiosity, adventure, and reflection. I so appreciated the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the best people, including judges, lawyers, business owners, grocery store baggers, and construction workers. Because of these interactions, I now understand that these are the people who make a community.
One lesson that I will carry into my future is that community is much more than location. Instead, it is best defined by relationships and interactions.
I would like to thank the Walker Area Community Foundation, The David Mathews Center, and the University of Alabama New College for guidance and support. This internship has been a once in a lifetime experience. My only hope is that others are granted the same opportunity to take part in such a vital program.
One lesson that I will carry into my future is that community is much more than location. Instead, it is best defined by relationships and interactions. I now have a better understanding of the complexities of building community and profound respect for the citizens of Jasper.
My summer experience left me with wisdom that can last a lifetime. Thank you, Jasper, for your hospitality and commitment to making your community better!