How many country songs can you think of that speak to the charm and love, the can’t get out of here fast enough, the simplicity of a slower-paced life, the impossibility of keeping a secret and the inevitability of dying famous in Small Town, USA. Before I moved to Othello WA I used to daydream about living in a place that those songs were made of. I’ve lived here for four years now and have learned there is a lot of truth to those lyrics. But then, Chris and I found ourselves at the Greater Othello Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet and I learned so much more about this tiny dot on the map!
I was so pleasantly surprised when we walked into the venue and saw the center-pieces and dinner tables decorated with amazing items for silent auction. There was a reverse raffle for cash prizes, the big ticket being $1000 cash. It came down to the last two tickets, one being #18 – belonging to Janice Baginski. In my head I was busy spending that money aaaannnd then the second last ticket was pulled and my shopping spree came to a sudden halt and the envelop with the cash went home with someone else. Soooo Close! How cool would that have been?!
The Chamber along with the City of Othello worked together to “rebrand” the city and the banquet was the event in which the great reveal took place. It’s exciting to see people get excited for this town, to want more and to actively go out and do things to make Othello better every day, to make it more welcoming to visitors and to make it a place that families want to be connected to.
You know, sometimes you go to these award banquets and if you don’t really know the recipients of the awards it can be a little hard to stay interested. I can’t say that was the case for this banquet at all! We may be a small town but the people who call Othello home have a true heart for this community! Three teachers were recognized as Teacher of the Year and learning about their commitment to their students makes me excited to know my children will one day be educated by individuals of this caliber! The Citizen of the Year Award went to Richard P. Bunch, MD a man who had a vision for this town so many years ago and pioneered the PA programs in rural America. When asked how many people had been delivered by Dr. Bunch or had a child delivered by Dr. Bunch nearly half of the room had raised their hands! So much impact by just one man! I also had a chance to briefly meet the Civil Servant of the Year winner, Debbie Kurdna, a woman who is so dedicated to the betterment of Othello, and in the few minutes that I met her, before realizing she was an award winner, I thought wow she is just the kindest person.
Listening to the stories told throughout the award presentations, seeing all the donations made for the silent auction and just watching as people interacted with one another, young and old, those in a professional position and those who are on their way to a career or on their way out of one. I felt like my Small Town, USA does offer a place for close connections. Life here does offer an opportunity for a slower-paced lifestyle but on the other hand there’s still so much more room for this town to grow, if one wanted to get more involved the opportunities to throw a little passion into the town are endless!
As I get to know more people in Othello and get more connected I love it more and more everyday. Guelph Canada will always be my home but I can see that Othello may be a very close second.
Congratulations to the individuals who took home awards this year. I hope that there may be an opportunity to get to know you in the future and I pray that you keep doing what you’re doing because it’s people such as yourselves who make Small Town, USA a place people want to come back to. 🙂