I woke up this morning, rubbed the sleep from my eyes, rolled over, and grabbed my cell phone from the nightstand. It’s a horrible habit I want to break, but on this day, I’m glad I did it.
I, of course, like most any human these days, opened Facebook. I swiped my thumb on the screen one time and saw it. A post exhibiting one of my most favorite human qualities – compassion.
A local mother had posted a plea to other local mothers on a private, community page. “A fellow mother of ours is down-and-out after back surgery. Who wants to pitch in and help cook dinners for her and her family?”
A lump immediately hit my throat as a smile spread across my face. “That’s Highland County,” I thought to myself as my eyes prickled with tears of pride.
I immediately emailed the wonderful caregiver and told her to sign me up.
I’ve always said, “If you live in Highland County, you already have insurance.”
The community here? They don’t know any other way. And, God bless ’em for it.
We have been trained for generations upon generations that helping your neighbor is not only a responsibility but a pleasure. It falls in the same essential action group as brushing your teeth every morning or eating dinner every evening – a daily task ingrained into your routine and existence.
I’m sure there are other small town communities throughout the world that do the same. I’m not suggesting Highland County is the only one. BUT, what I’m stating is: Highland County IS one! (And, it’s my personal favorite.)
I hate to even mention the word “fire,” but if you’re a Highland County resident whose been around these parts for a while, you’re likely nodding your head because you already know where I’m going with this.
I’d feel confident saying, any family in Highland County has dealt with a house fire of some sort. Whether it turned out to be an easily-extinguished chimney fire, an exploding Thanksgiving turkey, or a devastating total loss, fire is not to be taken lightly.
And, for Highland County folks, a neighbor fighting a fire means you’re fighting a fire whether you’re saying prayers or driving the firetruck.
When you see those red engines leave the station, lights exploding and sirens piercing, your heart drops. A member of your community is struggling. In pain. Quite possibly scared to death. …Or worse.
And, those in the firetrucks? Volunteer fire fighters. Vol-un-teer. I have no idea what goes into fighting a fire, really, but I’ve seen some pictures and videos of how close they get to the flames. Risking their lives and well-being to help neighbors. For no payment. For nothing other than the fact they know it’s their duty.
Now, some could argue and say a lot of calls maybe aren’t THAT big of an emergency. But, if you’ve ever worked or had a family member in emergency services, you know a “simple” situation can turn sideways real quick.
Plus, if you’ve ever sat at a dinner table with an emergency worker, you won’t see a second of hesitation cross their face when those tones go off. Even if a big, juicy, perfectly-grilled Porterhouse just hit the table in front of them.
There is a familial caring among a community. Even when you don’t see eye-to-eye with someone, you help them regardless. Because that’s what we do. And, at the end of the day, if your not-so-favorite person is in trouble, you still have a genuine want to help them because whether you’re “friends” or not, you are community. And, community means “family.”
Helping neighbors is something you DO in Highland County. When our ancestors first settled these mountains, that’s what they did. Neighbors helped neighbors raise barns, build homes, and protect families. And, that – supporting each other – is what we continue to do today, hundreds of years later.
About the Author
Dorothy Stephenson grew up on her family's cattle operation in Meadowdale, located in the southwest corner of Highland County. When she wasn't on horseback helping her father gather and work cattle, you'd likely find her (still on horseback) jumping creeks in her family's nearby "Big Pasture." Today, though she doesn't ride horses much anymore, she has her own cattle, land, and expansion plans for a farm. Additionally, (and with the inherited, Stephenson, entrepreneurial spirit) she owns two small businesses in Highland County - Sundance Media & Design and Sundance Studio & Productions, which houses another of Dorothy's long-time loves - Clogging. Dorothy loves exploring new places, skills, and ideas, and she intends to live life to the fullest as long as it will let her. (Oh! And she LOVES Christmas!)