by Natalia Dutt, AmeriCorps Member
Being part of the Thomas community doesn’t mean you have to live right in the town. We are surrounded by community members who are passionate about helping our city even though they live beyond the confines of the municipality. One of those individuals is Emily Wilson-Hauger. When she initially visited the Tucker County region for her honeymoon she fell in love with the beautiful landscapes, the unique culture, and the tight knit community that is found within Thomas. Emily was born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania. After attending Messiah College she eventually went on to receive her masters in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University. After graduation she and her husband, Matt moved to Washington DC where she worked for an international development organization. She slowly realized that the big city commute was not something she wanted for her life. Her husband received a job opportunity that allowed him to work remotely, so they decided to pack their bags and head to the mountains. Though she had no set job, she knew Tucker County was the place she wanted to settle and raise a family. After working a few seasons at Timberline the opportunity arose to become an AmeriCorps member serving with Woodlands Development Group, New Historic Thomas, and Tucker County Development Authority.
For two years she served with the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area and gained the experience to make a difference within her community. Upon the end of her AmeriCorps terms she was accepted a position within the Woodlands Development Group as well as served as the Executive Director to New Historic Thomas for two years. Since moving to the Thomas area almost six years ago, she has truly made her mark on the area and we would be lost without her. She has been able to get over $1 million worth of grants that have gone into the development of Thomas. She has played a serious part in a wide variety of projects that have made our town and the surrounding area a better place. From working on the riverfront redevelopment plans, putting together a survey of the BAD buildings in the community to be worked on, as well as starting to draft a comprehensive plan for the city of Thomas and the town of Davis, she has been able to make a profound impact on the community whether she realizes it or not. Through the wide variety of projects she has worked on the Thomas City Park Trails is one of her most proud accomplishments. She stated that even though these trails may get used by visitors, it is a trail that will be used for her friends and family which above all else makes all of the work worth it.
Through the wide variety of projects Emily has had the chance to work on, being part of the community has been something that has kept her rooted in Thomas. Citing that the opportunity to raise her child surrounded by so much nature and positivity has made it a no brainer that she wanted to make this home for the long term. Being surrounded by a great group of friends all with similar interests has made Tucker County the perfect home for her and her family. She has been able to make Thomas and Tucker County overall a place where she can work and play. Whether she is writing a grant for a new mountain bike trail or utilizing the incredible trails that are found in within her Tucker County home, she has been able to find her place here while making a lasting difference within her community. She has said some of her favorite memories throughout her time here are just getting outside with her friends who have slowly become her secondary family. Being surrounded by individuals who have a passion for their home and choose to be here, is a constant reminder that she and her family made the perfect choice to stay here for the long haul.
We cannot thank Emily enough for all of the hard work she puts in helping Thomas be the best it can be!