Yuri Miyazaki

When people in Venango County hear I moved to the area from Florida, they usually think I am crazy. I often hear the locals complain about the economy, the city officials, and many other things that affect their daily lives. I never thought I would live in a town that was smaller than my high school. I have never lived in an area where the closest Macy’s was over an hour away, or didn’t have at least 20 big chain grocery stores.

I was born and raised in South Florida, near Miami. People often envision white sands and clear ocean waters, they think we spend our weekends sipping on cocktails with our feet in the sand and our faces in the sun, and I am not going to lie, sometimes I would definitely be lying in the sun on a beautiful beach, but most of the time, I was battling traffic, rain, and tourists! I eventually moved from one city to another, earning my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in the process. I was working for the local school system full time during the day, and as a chef at night. I could barely afford to pay for the bedroom I was renting. Day in and day out, I tried so hard to improve the community I lived in, but eventually, I was sick of it. I hated feeling scared to walk my dog at night, I hated that it took 45 minutes to drive 10 miles. I hated that I never knew my neighbors, I hated that if a package was sitting too long on the porch, it was sure to be “missing” by the time I check for deliveries.

I knew it was time for a change, and through a series of coincidences, or maybe fate, I landed in Venango County. I was nervous, but after a few months, I couldn’t believe my luck. I lived in Franklin for awhile, but have since relocated to Slippery Rock, PA, but continue to work in Venango County. When living in Franklin, I spent my mornings excited to cross Petroleum Bridge for a breathtaking view of the Allegheny River and Oil City in the horizon. I loved walking my dog in the evenings, and stopping to chat with the neighbors. I still get to experience perks of the area by working here. I love walking into my favorite coffee shop, Bossa Nova in Franklin, and saying hello to all the friendly faces. I love visiting stores downtown, knowing they are owned by local people.

The thing I love most of all? I love the community here in Venango County. I have never seen so many people invested in the area, its families, and its children. I am currently working for a small non-profit whose mission to improve the lives of Venango County youth, so I have had the unique opportunity to work with a variety of agencies promoting the area. I am constantly taken aback by how earnest citizens here are in their quest to make Venango County the best it can be, it is absolutely incredible, and I am excited to be a part of it. No town or city is perfect, and I know that every area has its downfalls, but I love working in Venango County, and I hope to be here for quite a while.