As many of you know, National is headquartered in Lexington, NC. This week, our entire state is preparing for a massive storm fondly referred to as “Flo” by the locals. We’re battening down the hatches along the coast and preparing for a heavy dose of rain statewide…and we’re saying some prayers along the way.
I’m writing today to tell North Carolina (and our neighboring states) how proud I am to call this place home. If you’ve followed National’s story, you know our roots are firmly planted in this beautiful state. My grandfather – with whom I celebrate my birthday this week – was orphaned at a young age and raised in the Junior Order Home (now American Children’s Home), just a few miles from the house in which I was raised. When he left the orphanage at 18, he chose to stay in Lexington and build his life – and ultimately his business – within its caring and supportive community.
The town in which I was raised is one you read about in storybooks. The cashier at the grocery knows when your dog is at the vet. The server at the corner deli knows to bag up some chicken soup for your dad who is down with a cold. The stranger you pass on the street doesn’t look away but engages in genuine conversation for at least 5 minutes (be prepared to live slowly, in the Carolinas). The goodness of my hometown is not unusual. Instead it is a small glimpse into the rest of our great state.
I now live in Wilmington, a coastal town preparing to receive the brunt of this storm. Yesterday, I paused storm preparations and ran a few errands. I stopped by our local seafood shop, which sits on the water, to grab ingredients for one final coastal meal before the clouds roll in. (A note on storm prep – small businesses feel the weight of these storms intensely. Consider supporting them in the final prep days with a bump in sales!) The team was in full force, many of whom were not getting paid to work but simply there to help.
On my way home, I stopped at the post office and managed to drop a large box in the middle of the street (note to self: do not attempt balancing a toddler and large box simultaneously). A gentleman, removing awnings in preparation for high winds, descended from his 10-foot ladder to help me….and carry my box all the way to the post office.
Pictures of the goodness of humanity….and the very essence of North Carolinians. It is this spirit that permeates our landscape – a loyal connection to our community and an unwavering resilience we carry together. As North Carolina and our neighboring states prepare for the uncertainty Florence brings, we also shoulder up with our collective neighbors and offer a helping hand to a perfect stranger….not because it’s what we do. But because it’s who we are.
Stay safe, neighbor.