I grew up in a neighboring county, in the small town of Knox. During my teen years, I spent summers traveling abroad to Europe, spending a lot of time in England, Ireland and Wales. I was immediately hooked, believing that someday I would end up in one of these far off places that felt much like home to me.
LIVING IN FLORIDA
After high school, I made plans to attend Southeastern University in Florida. Initially, I wanted to study Church Leadership and Missions, at the time I was heavily influenced by my travels. I was young and knew very little about myself but believed my soul purpose was to help people.
I served a year in AmeriCorps when I was 18, where I was the only female member of an all male Community Corps group. It was a perfect fit as I enjoyed the physical labor and my competitive spirit challenged me to keep up with the boys. After finishing out my term, I moved to the sunshine state and ended up working for an Appraisal and Real Estate business. If ever the need arises for a plan B career, I often say I will pursue becoming a realtor. I loved living in Florida. It is a bright spot on my timeline. The transient culture promotes community amongst the residents and I have many dear friends in my circle from that part of the country.
After a few years, my spouse at the time wanted to relocate to Ohio to take a new position and to work on furthering his education. I spent one more summer in Europe and reluctantly left Florida, moving onto Lake Erie In Ohio. I finished up my degree in Psychology-Counseling from Liberty University at that time. In Ohio, I became involved with Young Adult Ministries and served as a College and Career pastor. During this season I adopted an inner-city sibling group of three African American Children. It was quite the challenge becoming a mother overnight–I was 25 and now had a 19-month-old, a 3½-year old, and a seven-year-old.
A FRESH START
Two years later, life rapidly changed and we were looking for a fresh start. My children had grown attached to my parents that were still living in Pennsylvania. I had never considered moving home; I was quite against the idea. However, I understood the value of my parents’ relationship with my adopted children, knowing belonging was a priority in their experience. So, in September of 2016, I chose to move to Franklin, placing us about 45 minutes away from my family.
We moved into an old, three story home in downtown Franklin. I chose Franklin because I remembered it as a beautiful town with Victorian homes and fun community festivals… okay, mostly Applefest.
I was nervous about moving my transracial family into a rural community, but was hoping Venango County would welcome us and give us the opportunity to lay down roots. I knew no one and hadn’t lived in Pennsylvania in 10 years. The first year I was thrown into several community events and met many new people. It was interesting living in a small town–usually people knew my name before I even introduced myself!
We now live out in the country in Seneca, once I embraced Venango County I knew I wanted a yard and a fire pit. I enjoy the deer and bear sightings in my yard.
When first moving to the area, I accepted a position to join the team at Child Development Centers. They had recently accepted the grant for Head Start and created positions for social workers and mental health workers to work with the children and families in their centers. During this time, I grew in my knowledge of the county by serving so many residents. It also helped me learn to navigate the area as well as I was often traveling throughout the county.
I started a Single Mother’s group in downtown Oil City, I wanted to better serve and support my clients. This group proved to be most rewarding as I was able to walk alongside women and watch them grow in self-esteem and independence.
Nearly two years ago I joined Bethany Christian Services and began working with post-adoptive and kinship families in Venango County and the surrounding counties. This decision was difficult, but knowing my personal background with adoption I felt merging my personal life and career was a beneficial move. I enjoy working with families and leading support groups in our county and other surrounding counties.
I never would have imagined life bringing me back closer to home. I am grateful for Venango County and the many opportunities it has given me. I truly love working with the community here. One of the groups I am involved with is our County’s Suicide Prevention task force. My favorite event we put on is our Light Up Kayak event. I feel most successful when I am doing good and being engaged with the community.
One of the first places I found myself here was on our beautiful bike trail. I attempt to run on our trail everyday, and I also enjoy hiking in Oil Creek State Park, as well as kayaking, paddleboarding and boating on the Allegheny River. I truly love our river and if anything has sold me on living here it is our beautiful Allegheny River. It is home to me.
Also in my free time, I like hot yoga on Saturday mornings at Impel pilates and yoga studio, afterwards grabbing a latte at Bossa Nova and chatting with Gabby. I enjoy eating brunch at Karma Coffee Co and grabbing dinner at Trails to Ale Brewery. During the summer, my family can also be found poolside at Wanango Country Club.
I hope to continue to lay down roots here. I am always looking for ways to be involved in our tight knit community and hope to stay for a very long time. Venango County is full of wonderful and warm people; I believe that is the biggest draw. It’s a wonderful place to raise a family and meet friends, old and young.