We have been supporting residents of McDowell County for several years. As we continue to bring food and supplies, we also want to help the community tell its story to the world.
We met Derek Tyson (31), a talented young man from Welch. As a Film Director, he has made three movies at Dive Productions. He also works as an editor and reporter for the local newspaper. We met at the offices of The Welch News. He gave us a tour and spoke with me about his experiences.
The Welch News is a 94-year-old newspaper. They still make newspapers the old-fashioned way, with layout cards, an old camera, and a 1966 printing press. They’ve had their ups and downs but continue producing great work. In 2018, they launched an online publication that has helped them gain more exposure.
Most of my classmates are gone, but still, an almost millennial workforce operates The Welch News.Derek
This passionate team hopes to convince the county of its potential and encourage residents to love themselves again.
I want people to come together and work together to make a change. And not get caught up with what we don’t have but what we can have more; A shift in mentality could change things.Derek
Even though his entire high school class left for other places, this talented young man stayed. He felt the place was worth fighting for.
Maybe we will never be a hundred-thousand population county again. But we may be a lot better for people that want to live in a small and peaceful area. I don’t believe we need a lot to get there.Derek
Derek and I had a very emotional discussion about poverty and hopelessness. His father took his own life, and Derek misses him dearly. He thinks that hopelessness got to him–the same despair that many people in McDowell experience daily. That is why Derek is more aware of the situation than most people. This is also why he is working hard to help ease suffering and restore hope in the area.
I want people to know that good things still happen here.Derek
In our interview, Derek also emphasizes the positive aspects of McDowell. He says that the people are kind and always willing to help.
If your car breaks down, the traffic will be blocked, and so many people will stop to help you; we will run straight to fire to help someone.Derek
Derek said that people from Appalachia sometimes get teased and called hillbillies or rednecks because of how they talk. This is unfortunate and unfair. Appalachian people have contributed greatly to our nation and are intelligent, lovely, and good people.
Derek’s parting words were:
I would tell people of McDowell County that they are good enough. To everyone looking in, before passing judgment, come meet us.Derek
Here you can listen to the whole interview: