Twenty-Somethings Talk About Life In Pocahontas County
Marlinton, WV – What’s it like to try to make a life for yourself as a young adult in Pocahontas County? At this month’s Create Pocahontas meeting in Marlinton, those in attendance participated in a panel discussion with a handful of people in their 20s to answer that question. Moderated by Rachel Tompkins, of Douthards Creek, the discussion focused on the highlights and the challenges of being a young adult in Pocahontas County.
Those around the table had educations that ranged from GED through college. Some grew up in Pocahontas County, while other have come from across the country.
Victoria Ramos came to Pocahontas County from the state of Wyoming. Ramos says she was able to complete her GED through courses at the Career Center in Marlinton. She’s now taking a college prep class there, offered through New River Community and Technical College.
Working and going to school at the same time, Ramos say she hopes to go into nursing and eventually become a Registered Nurse. Ramos says she appreciates the ease with which she could further her education in Pocahontas County.
“It’s convenient,” she says. “It’s right at my fingertips, which is something that Wyoming does not have, and which makes it really hard for me to try accomplishing that.”
As a mother of two, however, Ramos says there are few entertainment options for children in the area. She says she’d like to see things along the lines of mini-golf, bowling, movies or other family-friendly activities in the county.
On the other hand, another young person at the table, Amelia Swenson, who moved to Pocahontas County from California, says she has found an abundance of things to do here.
“I think it’s a wonderful place to live,” she says. “I think it’s beautiful and an incredible community I love the landscape and parks and outdoor activities. I guess that’s just what I really like, so there’s too much to do here for me. I haven’t even gotten to do it all.”
Swenson says she has also enjoyed getting to meet people her age who have grown up in Pocahontas County. One of those is Greer Hughes. Hughes graduated from Pocahontas County High School and left to go to college.
“I went away for school, and after I graduated, I moved out west and lived for a couple years, but [I] kind of missed being in the mountains and in a smaller community and came back” Hughes says. “Up until a couple years ago, there weren’t that many young people. We didn’t have a lot of VISTAs or AmeriCorps members, so it’s really exciting to have this new life come in and sort of not shake things up, but more in a good way. There’s new life here, which I think is really exciting.”
Hughes said she enjoys being back in Pocahontas County, but she also notes that it took two years to finally land a full-time job. She eventually found full-time work at Snowshoe Mountain Resort,and she says she was lucky to find it. Hughes says she knows several young people who stitch together part-time jobs to make ends meet.
In addition to finding work, Greer and the other 20-somethings around the table spoke of the difficulty in finding affordable, available housing in Pocahontas County. Toward the end of the discussion, Lisa Thompson, an employment specialist with North Central Community Action also spoke of the need for more local vocational offerings for those who don’t have the desire to go to college.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Tompkins acknowledged that the afternoon’s dialogue didn’t fix any of the challenges that were discussed, but she syas it did bring to light some of the issues that deserve more attention in Pocahontas County.
Create Pocahontas meets again August 25 at the Snowshoe Career Center. The Guest Speaker will be Laura Lee Haddad, Director of the Greenbrier Valley United Way. She’ll speak about the ways in which the organization is restructuring its giving to community organizations, with an emphasis on the areas of Health, Income and Education.