My Alliance roots run deep, stretching back to Levi Lamborn, who popularized the scarlet carnation.
Nevertheless, as a girl growing up on a farm in Amish country, I had no idea that I would one day call Alliance my home. My parents let me make my own decisions about college, so I followed in the footsteps of four earlier generations of my family, trekking to the Carnation City in 2011 to attend the University of Mount Union.
After graduation, I returned home with thoughts of employment and graduate school uppermost in my mind. But an opening with AmeriCorps VISTA at Mount Union brought me back to the place I had come to love.
After one year with AmeriCorps, I moved into the position of assistant director of the Regula Center for Public Service and Civic Engagement. This is arguably the best job in town because it allows me to represent Mount Union to the community, partner with people of all ages, and find ways to make a positive impact in and around the city.
I am involved extensively in civic life, serving on the boards of the YMCA, Synergy Alliance, Alliance Farmers’ Market, Early Childhood Education Alliance, the Alliance Community Pantry and the Greater Alliance Carnation Festival. Additionally, I joined the Kiwanis Club and have helped with United Way campaigns.
I didn’t see it coming, but Alliance is now part of my DNA, and I am blessed to be part of this community. As a college student, I came to love downtown, where I met people who are still important in my life.
The residents of Alliance are why I am here and why I chose to stay when I could have pursued other options. Whether I’m talking to a client at the homeless shelter, the mayor at a city function, or just a new acquaintance on the street, I am reminded that everybody has a story and a unique point of view. Everybody can teach me something. Our young people need to remember this and benefit from it.
Alliance is teeming with positives. Our downtown is filled with dedicated owners and employees who are creating businesses. Our nonprofit and community outreach groups are vital and well run. Our local businesses support community initiatives that make Alliance a better place to live and work. We have a large number of bright, inquisitive young people in the area — and one goal should be to keep them.
When somebody asks me why he or she should consider moving to Alliance, I would first and foremost mention the people who make this a strong, diverse and vibrant community. I would also highlight our size and location. We are small enough for individuals to make an impact, but big enough to offer options for shopping, dining and entertainment. Alliance is situated so that visits to larger cities like Cleveland and Columbus are easy.
I challenge Alliance residents, old and new, to “Make It Yours” by talking to others, finding common ground and getting to know them. Embrace something you love and contribute to its growth. Or if it doesn’t exist, make it happen here. Whether you volunteer, donate goods or services, or join a church or civic group, get involved and see for yourself what Alliance is all about.
It’s what I did when I was a college student, and it not only changed my outlook, but also gave me a new place to call home.