In Shelby County, community is family

Published 8:17 am Tuesday, October 12, 2021

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By Michelle Love | Staff Writer

Since I began working for Shelby County Newspapers, there’s been something that has stood out to me more than anything. I mainly cover Helena and Pelham, so my days are spent commuting between the two areas attending meetings, talking with business owners and getting to know the people who call those cities home. The thing that has stood out to me the most is the intense feeling that the community you share your city with is also part of your family.

This may not seem like a revolutionary thought to most of you, but where I grew up the sense of community felt more synthetic than genuine.

My family and I went out to Pelham a lot when I was growing up because I loved the ice skating rink and Oak Mountain Amphitheater, so I was a little more familiar with the area. It wasn’t until I landed my wonderful job at SCN that I even set foot in Helena. I now tell anyone who will listen that I’ve fallen in love with the Helena area. I’ve also become more impressed with Pelham, seeing all aspects of the city besides their entertainment district (which keeps growing). Both cities have a strong city government and immense pride in their school systems. The thing I love most about Helena and Pelham, however, continues to be that strong sense of community.

Both Helena and Pelham have a beautiful and diverse community where everyone knows everyone and everyone has a smile for you. I’ve attended more events in the past few weeks dedicated to raising money for Helena High School than I ever attended in my four years at Vestavia High School. I’ve attended more City Council meetings than I’ve ever attended…well, ever. But no matter where I go, I feel like I’ve lived in these cities for years. The first time I’ve set foot in any building in Helena and Pelham, I didn’t even have to introduce myself. People came up to me in droves to introduce themselves to me and always followed it with, “If you need anything at all, please don’t hesitate to call.”

The sense of community and acceptance both cities have speaks volumes to how I wish every community was. I wish everyone was inclusive, supportive and attentive to everyone in their neighborhood, to their businesses, schools and even people who are new to the area. It’s so easy today to get jaded and feel like there are no good people out there and everyone is looking out for themselves. Helena and Pelham proved me wrong. There are cities where family, community and being a good person who loves with the heart and not a hidden agenda still matter. I hope all other communities take a page from these two cities, and we can all learn to exist in peace.