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Melissa Dennis starts work in Chatom

Auburn University Living Democracy Fellow Melissa Dennis has started her summer of Living Democracy in Chatom. She will be living and learning in the southwest Alabama community until Aug. 9.

Dennis, majoring in social work and minoring in community and civic engagement at Auburn, said she is excited to spend her time getting involved in the community.

During her stay, she will be working closely with Jessica Ross, the director of the Washington County Public Library.

Ross said, “In our rural county, community service, partnership, and civic engagement are priorities for WCPL. The goals and objectives of the Living Democracy align perfectly with our mission ‘to strengthen and enrich our community by connecting people to the world of information, ideas and imagination in order to support their work, education, personal growth and enjoyment.’”

Ross added, “We hope to encourage citizens to get involved and feel more connected to the county, so the better-informed citizens are, the more engaged they can become. The many programs and community projects that Melissa will be helping with and the articles that will be written about our community will shine a light on the unique culture and historically significant events that make Washington County special.”

This opportunity to work with Chatom means a lot to Dennis as well. She said, “Living Democracy will give me the chance to have a once in a lifetime immersion experience that will teach me the lessons that I can’t learn in a classroom. I’m ready for my summer to begin so that I can meet all the special people who call Chatom home and learn what life is really like in a rural community.”

Dennis is a graduate of Shades Valley High School in Irondale, Alabama. She is the daughter of Tawanda and Mark Dennis. For more information, contact Dennis at