Why I Love My Community
Our readers share what makes life sweet
We asked our readers what makes where they live special — why they’re happy to call it home — and the responses we received did not disappoint. We read all with a smile. These are some favorites.
The Master’s Work
Out where I come from, Caswell County has the most beautiful skies with unobstructed views. Wide open spaces to enjoy the master creator’s artwork. On any given day, this is what I wake up to. Pink skies with love in the air.
A Beautiful Puzzle
Hood Swamp, just a few miles from Goldsboro, is full of my favorite people who are honest, hardworking and friendly. In our small rural community, combines can be seen in the fields. Cows can be seen grazing in fields. Often deer can be seen late in the afternoon eating corn, wheat or soybeans left in the fields from harvest. Hood Swamp has amazing farmland, laid out like a beautiful puzzle. Our community has a small country store where friends gather to eat a snack and talk about the weather. Hood Swamp Friends Church, built in the 1700s, still has services every Sunday. Like other churches in the community, people gather to worship and often have pot luck dinners serving barbeque or chicken pastry. My community is quiet and peaceful. The only really loud noise that is ever heard is the jets from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base flying over protecting our small community and our great USA. I am proud to call Hood Swamp Community my home.
Ships on the Move
Living at the NC coast provides countless opportunities to take photos of beautiful sunrises and sunsets, fishing boats, life at the harbor and marinas — and believe me I do. But one thing that amazes me more than many things and really love are the big containerships making their way through the narrow straits around Southport, Bald Head Island and Caswell Beach. Just incredible how they managed to get a 1,150-foot long ship safely through the area with limited space to spare.
I love my community because everyone seems to know each other. There are great views where you can see for miles and miles away, and a plentiful supply of kindness. We come together when a person is in a time of need and always work together for the greater good.
The Friday night lights of Raider Stadium are what I love best about my community.
Richmond County is a little different on Friday nights in the fall. No matter if you are an alumni of Richmond Senior or an import to Richmond County, you are expected at Raider Stadium on Fridays to cheer on the green and gold. There are the diehards that are there early and you better be early too, if you want a seat.
These young men and their coaches may never realize exactly how important they are to our community but they are the talk of the town the whole week.
From the pre-season to the playoffs (a playoff spot is all but guaranteed in these parts), you can find a good conversation about how talented the quarterback is and how many sacks the defense will end up with at the end of the season everywhere in the county. From the breakfast group at Hardee’s, to the local hardware stores, to the Facebook fan pages, or the local pharmacy, you will find that the Raiders are topic of conversation anywhere you go.
Raider football brings this community together like nothing else!
We long ago encountered “friends are the family you choose” stitched on a pillow in a secondhand store. Our family has called a small North Carolina town home for almost 20 years. Here we have just one other relative. Thus, our Sanford friends have become a treasured extended family. We have dubbed them our “framily.” Our children have countless “aunts,” “uncles,” and “cousins,” who are related by Sanford community bond instead of blood.
Our framily stays late to clean up kid birthday parties. They’re a fixture at holiday gatherings. They’re emergency rides when the car is stalled. They’re among the audience when our children perform. They’re at the door with a meal after surgery. They send flowers after a loss. Simply put, they’re there. Like family.
One member of our Sanford framily is Patricia Pemberton (pictured below), a surrogate grandmother to our children (and to many others in Sanford). She has dressed like Cat in the Hat to deliver books to our children. She has come by on a rainy Halloween to meet our new rescue kitten. She brings cake to celebrate a starring role. She’s all smiles in a lemon-themed blouse at the kid’s driveway lemonade stand. Like framily.
Richmond County knows how to party! That’s what makes it special to me! You all host diverse events: the Seaboard Festival; Rockingham Dragway with motorcycle and car racing plus epic music entertainment; Discovery Place KIDS; Ellerbe Tractor Parade; Cole Auditorium performances; Plaza Jam beach bands; John Coltrane tribute; The Berry Patch, and more. Pee Dee Electric keeps it all functioning, enhancing the fun.
I moved here from Yankee Country (Pennsylvania) recently. Friendly neighbors urged this new-to-the-South resident to indulge in tasting collard green sandwiches, grits, fried chicken done right Dixie style, pimento cheese spread, and sweet potato patties. Thirst got quenched with sweet tea, Pepsi, Coke or Cheerwine. “Try this,” they said. I did: in people’s homes, at church socials, sampling at celebrations.
The truth is that I loved some of these experiences. Others I did NOT like. Am I going to tell you which was which? No, Bless Your Heart! All was offered with an enthusiastic, genuine, generous spirit of pride in their chosen place to live and work. Thank You, Richmond County. I am here to stay. I have a lot to learn and explore next year.
The Jewel of Tabor City
The reason I love my community is that we are blessed to have a very special jewel in the heart of our downtown historic district. This jewel is the Ritz Center, which was the very first project that was assigned to me by the Town of Tabor City.
Formerly known as the Ritz Movie Theater, and loved by so many in our community, this historic renovation took two years and two months of fundraising and building renovations to complete. Our businesses and citizens were a huge part of this renovation. Their donations comprised three-fourths of the monies for this project. Their stories and precious memories of the Ritz and why they wanted this building preserved kept me going. This labor of love is now a thriving event center and, as of December 31, 2019, over 21,275 people will have passed through its doors by attending an event. Its beautiful marquee lights up our downtown and shines as a constant reminder of days gone by, and what can be accomplished when a community comes together. Each time I pass by The Ritz, I am reminded of just how special it is.
A Kinnekeeter at Heart
I can never be a Kinnekeeter. One has to be born here to be called that! Why then, as an outsider, do I love Avon?
Simple. I was welcomed with smiles, invitations to Sunday lunch at Burger Burger. I NEVER felt like an Outsider. It didn’t take long to realize that trips to the post office meant leaving time for conversations; that Fessendan Center was a good place to exercise, take an enrichment class (I learned about acai!); join a movie group or book club.
But the main reason was what I witnessed when storms devastated our community: neighbors, acquaintances, strangers, churches coming together to feed, to cloth, to rebuild, to HELP wherever needed. “Do you have a place to stay? Do you need help emptying your flooded basement or removing wet installation? Do you need your phone charged or a ride? Is this your kayak? Here is a meal. We sprayed for mold.” Not just saying the words, but DOING — how can you not love a community like that?
No. I am not a Kinnekeeter, but I take pride in saying, “I am from Avon, and I love my community.”
Eastern NC Love
I would love driving from Morehead City to New Bern every day because while I drove, I got to see first-hand how beautiful and unique this area really is. I even stopped on the bridge into Downtown New Bern to capture this amazing shot of the sun rising. There is no better place to be, than here in Eastern North Carolina.
So Much to Offer
Far too often, I hear people from Rutherford County talk about how there’s “nothing to do.” What these folks fail to realize is that activities and resources are abundant in Rutherford County that makes this place unlike any other. Our community is grounded in the belief of helping others, as evident by the Backpack Program, the variety of soup kitchens, and Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops that meet regularly throughout the county. We connect to other cultures through a variety of cuisines from around the world, as well as our international reach with the Tryon Equestrian Center. On any given night, one can take a stroll through downtown Forest City and see the lights, shop at local businesses, or grab a bite to eat before enjoying a show at our outdoor pavilion or catching an Owls’ game. While we may not have a mall, trampoline park, or large chain restaurant, there are plenty of sources of entertainment available. If someone were to insist that our community has nothing to offer, I would argue that they simply are not looking.
Located across the railroad tracks, two blocks from the “Quarters” where decedents of the enslaved were relegated after the Civil War, is “Pottstown.” Huntersville’s governing body named the site after resident and brick mason Otha Potts in 1909.
My mother’s sharecropping parents were born there. Our parents married, and they reared us four children there.
Families in Pottstown were valued by their neighbors. Every home had two parents with extended family living with them. Doors were seldom locked. Working parents had no worries about leaving their children at home alone as elderly neighbors looked out for them. Under their watchful eyes, we were mindful and acted responsibly.
Obtaining an education for their children was foremost on parents’ minds. A Rosenwald School with grades one through six opened in the 1920s. In 1937, Huntersville Colored High School was built. The community boasted of having two locally owned stores. A gas station was on the main road.
Though Pottstown has changed, it is still loved and a great place to call home.
Where Time Stands Still
The Sandy Plains Community is where time stands still. Neighbors speak. You’re aware of the birds calling; cows lowing; and smell of the upturned dirt. When you’re in Sandy Plains, you understand why the farmer drives his old truck under 35 mph with his arm out the window.
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