By Julie Payson
In difficult times, our great community pulls together. As you certainly are aware our small town has been hit hard over the past few weeks. One tragedy after another it seems right in our own backyard. Tragedy reveals the true character of a community. When I was growing up in north Atlanta, there was a strong sense of community. People rallied around in support whether it was in celebration of a new life, or the joining of two families in marriage, anniversaries, retirements or if in sorrow to share the pain and help carry the burden of grief.
Caught up in the busy-ness of our culture today that sense of community seems to have slowly faded away. But not in Toccoa! We are a community that is generous in compassion. We do life like family in this Small Town, USA setting. We celebrate the success of one another. We come together under the Friday Night Lights to cheer on our team, we gather at concerts on Main Street and for many community events and celebrate life in Stephens County. In that same vein, we also come together to support one another in times of tragedy and loss. We are a community that carries our wounded.
For the families hit so hard by illness or tragedy it is such a comfort to be surrounded by friends, family and the community who will help carry and walk alongside them as they face the difficult journey ahead. As I often say and so firmly believe, the people of Toccoa-Stephens County is what sets this town apart. Our Community = Common Unity. We are a community that understands the big picture. There is more to this life than just the day-to-day routine. We are family, in good times and in difficult times. We must take the time to invest in those around us. Because one day, we will be the ones in need of that support. And when you’ve been on the receiving end of that love and support, you have a new appreciation for it. I am so thankful to live in a community full of friends and neighbors who love and care for one another.
I and humbled and grateful that as a community we still recognize the sovereignty of our Almighty God. I am praying for His continued blessings on the people of this community as we are faithful to be His hands and feet as we care for each other, help our neighbors walk life’s difficult path and simply do life together. Life is different here, in such a good way. I reflect on a line from a recent movie, Heritage Falls, filmed right her in our town. It so applies to our Toccoa, “we are a team, we are family, we are one!”