Growing up in Encinitas, the small town feel was unimaginable. I heard stories of aunts in the Midwest who never locked their doors, “just in case someone needs to use the phone”, or tales of whole towns whose populations were smaller then my high school class. These concepts were beyond my understanding. That is, until I moved to Vinton.
Vinton is about five square miles with a population of about 5,000 people. Just a walk around the town is enough to show you how small it truly is. After having spent my summer in a lot of large cities, pushing past people and dealing with traffic at every corner, Vinton is a truly a breath of fresh air. Within the past two weeks, I have walked around town and could count on one hand the amount of people we came across that weren’t from the FEMA Corps program. The people here are incredibly friendly and wave whenever they pass by, if not also stopping entirely just to chat about what it is we’re doing in Vinton and where we’re from. Just today my team and I were walking around town and wanted to stop to see a local church that is almost 100 years old. Right as we realized the church was closed, the pastor walked up and offered to show us around. In most other places, this kind of hospitality is unheard of.
The biggest example of the small town feel, however, came from my Monday night. After a long few days of training, two of my team members and I decided to go to a quiet bar down the street for a few drinks. We ended up being the only people in the entire place and got to spend a good deal of time chatting with the bartender and learning more about the area and people. The bartender was like a history book when it came to Vinton’s past and present. He knew everything about the AmeriCorps program including all of the acronyms we’re usually discouraged from using with the general public. Describe one person in town you saw, and he could likely tell you their life story. I use to think that a small town like Vinton wasn’t for me, but I’m finding myself increasingly falling in love with the charm of my new home.
On Wednesday, my team and I will leave for Vicksburg, Mississippi to finish up our training before heading back to Vinton and receiving our first assignment. I’ll keep you posted on our adventures!