Samantha Jones

Sam's Notebook

Samantha Jones is a former associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers.


Thank you, Carroll County

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

This Thanksgiving, we have a special feature in Carroll County News. I spent much of last week calling local nonprofit leaders asking what they are most thankful for this year, and the responses reminded me why Iím so thankful to live and work in our wonderful community.

Itís a community where giving comes first, whether thatís a benefit chili cook-off or the everyday minutiae at our food banks. When thereís a coat drive, people clear out their closets. When the Boy Scouts hold their Scouting for Food drive, people clear out their pantries. Carroll County citizens give, give and give some more.

Some people say thatís just life in a small town. But I came to Carroll County from a small town ó a town much smaller than Berryville, Green Forest, Eureka Springs or Holiday Island ó and I know thatís not always the case.

I didnít hear about that many fundraisers growing up, unless it was for a specific individual or family. In Carroll County, we have annual fundraisers that people start planning a year in advance. Iím looking at you, Eureka Springs Historical Museumís Voices from the Silent City, Good Shepherd Humane Societyís Bonejour Gala and Eureka Springs Friends of the Libraryís book sale.

I had to complete a certain number of community service hours to graduate from high school, but I couldnít tell you how I volunteered my time. Itís one of many memories I never bothered to keep. In Carroll County, students in the Rotary Interact club routinely raise money for nonprofits in need. Many choose their career path because of their experience in the club ó they are creating lifelong memories through volunteering.

Lifelong Carroll County citizens see giving as a way of life, but itís not like this in every community. We live in an extraordinary place, something newer citizens understand more than anyone. Gideon and I have lived here since 2014 and have no plans to go anywhere else. We moved here after dating for six months, mostly long distance, and living together for two.

Our first apartment on Pivot Rock Road will always have a special place in my heart, because itís where we started this beautiful life together. We brought a mattress, kitchen table, futon and our sweet orange tabby cat, BJ, to that humble home. BJ loved to spend his days on the balcony. He was the ďwitnessĒ at our wedding, which took place on the balcony in July 2016.

Over the past five years, weíve experienced countless highs and lows. Gideon got a masterís degree and started teaching at Eureka Springs Middle School. Our beloved friend, Melody, died young. We met our very best friends, Stephanie and Jeremy. BJ died of terminal leukemia. We bought a house and fostered lots of kittens. We navigated the COVID-19 pandemic together.

I knew Iíd be reflecting on the good and bad this week, and I expected to feel bittersweet about it. But today, I only feel happy. The older I get, the more I understand that you have to take the good with the bad. Sometimes, you can find something good in the worst situation ó even if itís just discovering your own strength.

Without this wonderful community, I know I wouldnít feel quite so strong today.

I am overwhelmingly thankful for everyone in Carroll County, from Green Forest to Holiday Island. I know we all make this community the special place it is. Knowing Iím part of that is the best feeling in the world.

This week, I hope you are counting your blessings along with me. I would love to hear what you are most thankful for ó feel free to email me or give me a call. Iím a broken record, but Iíll say it again.

Thank you, Carroll County. Thank you for playing such a vital role in my journey. Thank you for giving more to me than I can ever give back.