Appalachia 2020

A Word From Gail Spradlin
Director of the Auxier Center


It’s 12:47pm. I am sitting on my front porch listening to only the sounds of the wind blowing and single bee buzzing. I think about the fresh air. I am breathing. I am thankful. 

I don’t know that I have ever sat so still. I don’t know that I have ever taken the time to appreciate all that is around me. Day after day, I move through life at the pace of a marathon runner, always running to do the next thing in my life that has to be done. I am reminded that God is always in control as I sit here. 

The days that I pull into work, I grieve to say, “Welcome Home”, as I grab the precious volunteers and give them a big hug. I am a hugger! I have dedicated my life to show others love and compassion. At this point in time, I can’t give anyone a hug or even a simple pat on the back. 

I wonder if sometimes God feels that way about us when we don’t put our faith and trust in Him? I wonder if He grieves for those He just wants to surrender to Him because they are hurt and broken? It must be! It has to be! 

I am very much a social person. I have always said I could never sit home and watch television all day. I have now been home for 7 days and I am at peace. There’s no depression, and no anxiety… Just a calmness and peace that only God can give. 

I am home with my 8-year-old. I get to be his stay-at-home Mom for a little while. I have enjoyed our little conversations, picnics in the floor, and the Big-Wheel rides down the mountain… For that, I am grateful. 

This pandemic has forced us all to look at our lives differently. It has forced some to live like they have never lived before. It has forced other to realize how vital they are to this world. The people in our fast food restaurants, grocery stores, etc., should never be looked at as just cashiers, or just restaurant workers… They are right there with the medical teams. They are essential. Let’s remember those, we as a world, depended on when this is all said and done. May we all show compassion, kindness, and understanding to everyone. May we give back to those who have given to us. 

As I sit here on this porch, I ache for those that look to HHM for help. I know their anxiety is great. I find myself wondering if the elders are okay and if anyone is checking on them. I want to get in my car and drive to check for myself, but I can’t. I, myself, have a child with a weakened immune system. What I can do, is pray for them. We can all pray for them. 

I miss my family, my work family, employees, clients, volunteers, and co-workers. I wonder if they are all safe, and I pray I don’t have to hear we lost one to this virus.

When I think of Hand in Hand as an organization, it makes me realize that we are so much more than an organization… We are one very, very, large family. We are not Mr. or Mrs. so and so. We are Gail, Marla, Gloria, Susan, Harry, BJ, Priscilla, Christy, Olivia, Keeleigh, Mike, Mary Helen… We greet each other with whole-hearted hugs! We treat one another with respect, kindness, and compassion. I am so grateful for this wonderful family of human beings. I am thankful to breathe this fresh air. I am so thankful God has given me a calm and peace. I pray He does the same for others.

I hope that once we are on the other side of this pandemic, we continue to take the times to listen to a bee buzz or a wind chime blow, and just thank God for all we have.