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Thomaston became student's family over summer

The town of Thomaston’s slogan on the sign at the city hall reads: “Where a small town is like a family.” During my time here, I have found this to be true. When I first visited Thomaston last spring, I was surprised by how welcomed I was.

Everyone greeted me and asked what I was doing in Thomaston. When I said that I would be in Thomaston as a Living Democracy student to learn about the town and more about how communities work, they immediately starting raving about their town.

I learned quickly that the people of Thomaston have a deep love for Thomaston and love to talk about their home.  I also learned that this love for Thomaston goes beyond the city limits. People who are from here originally and those just passing through frequently comment on their affection for this place.

During my summer in Thomaston, I was able to learn more about what people thought about the community. One way I discovered this was by completing my Thomaston WordArt project. Throughout the summer, I directly and indirectly asked people to share one word they thought best described the community. During my final week, this collection of words was presented to the community as framed art that can now be seen in city hall.

Some of the most common words I gathered where “great”, “lovely”, “community”, “rural”, “quiet”, and “home”. I think that these words capture what Thomaston really is like. If I had to choose one word to describe Thomaston, I would use family.  After my 10 weeks here in Thomaston, I have come to know and love many of the people in this small town.

When I first heard that the town that I would working and living in was Thomaston, I was excited because I love new adventures. As I started research to learn about the town, I learned that it was in Marengo County in Alabama’s Black Belt. I had never really been to this area, and I was eager to start my summer.

I am from Henagar in Northeast Alabama. So, the drive to Thomaston turned out to be about 4 hours and 30 minutes. This drive did make me feel further away from home and my family, but the people of Thomaston did an amazing job at making me feel like I had a family here as well.

Mrs. Carolyn Finley, my host for the summer, has been so kind and welcoming to me. I have thoroughly enjoyed living with her.  We spent a lot of time together eating dinner, watching television and having long conversations.

She was very supportive of me from the start, and she helped me get any information or contacts that I needed to do well this summer. Mrs. Finley, born and raised here in Thomaston, told me many great stories about the community and its history.

Through Mrs. Finley, I met Bob and Shirley Crocker who also became like family to me. Mrs. Finley and I enjoyed many adventures and spending the Fourth of July holiday with them.

The staff of Thomaston City Hall also became like family to me. I want to say thank you to Tonya Traywick, Donna Stokes and Jeff Laduron for helping me with all my projects and being so sincerely kind. I spent most of my time in Thomaston in the city hall and have had the chance to really learn how a small town operates.

From working Vacation Bible School at Thomaston Baptist to helping with Extension robotics camps and poultry club, I have loved getting to know the children in this area. It has been nice to see that the kids in this area are so involved with the summer activities. It is also nice to see al