by Katie Teems, NHT AmeriCorps Member
Kathy Helmick is a familiar face in Thomas. When she's not working during the day as Clerk and the face of City Hall, you can find her tending to her ducks and twenty-three chickens at her home in Leadmine or helping to fight fires for the Thomas Volunteer Fire Department.
Kathy grew up in Hambleton and was part of the first graduating class at the new High School. Growing up the only girl with three brothers, she had to "learn to be rough and tough," and "the only vacation we ever knew was a camping trip." Kathy reminisced about the "good swimming holes back then." Naturally, summer is Kathy's favorite time in Thomas. "I hate the cold," she says, but "winters are not like they used to be," she said. "One time I don't think we saw the pavement for a couple of months at a time."
She came to Thomas is 1980 after getting married to her then husband. Later on in 2002, she moved to Leadmine and moved to a house where she said "I can stand on my front porch and throw a rock into the creek."
Kathy talked about working waitress for many years. She loved getting to interact with people and seeing how the food she served them or the smile on her face made the customers happy. She started working at Penn Avenue Dairy in Parsons when she was a kid, and she worked in restaurants until 2004. She started working at City Hall in 2008 and then noted the differences in Thomas now and Thomas when she was younger: "It has gotten a lot more fast-paced here," she said, and there are "many more young people," than in the past.
Even though Kathy moved close to Thomas in 2002, her family always came to Thomas to watch the fireworks. "They just get bigger, and the crowds have gotten bigger," she said. Kathy helps prepare for Mountaineer Days. After this year's fireworks, Kathy served at the Thomas VFD breakfast, making "three and a half 18-quart roasters full of sausage gravy," she said. Serving with Thomas' Volunteer Fire Department isn't all about fireworks and sausage gravy, though. Kathy is always prepared for fires. "I have the radio with me right now," she said.
Kathy is even on the Leadmine CERT—Community Emergency Response Team. "When you're in a secluded area," she said, "you have to take care of each other." During Super storm Sandy when the roads were near-impossible to navigate, Kathy made it her mission to check on her neighbors and the elderly. She also noted that offering moral support is an important function of CERT. In the interim time between an accident and responder's arrival, words of encouragement, Kathy said, make all the difference.
Thank you, Kathy, for all the work you've done for Thomas and beyond.