Wood County thrives on its own diversity
Written by By TOM VERMILYA   
Saturday, 22 May 2010 08:22
Asphalt shingle or tin roofs, wood or vinyl siding, one of the favorite hobbies that my wife Amy and I do is traveling through the countryside looking at the various farmhouses and barns.  We admire their differing shapes and sizes, colors, and uses.
Usually when people think of farms, they picture the big red barns and white farmhouses.  But Amy and I have noticed that rarely do two farms look exactly alike, as do the many country homes and housing developments.  
For a county that is considered mostly of a German heritage, you could not tell that by traveling on county back roads.  There is the appearance of many nationalities, including Dutch of which is my own ancestry.  My dad's big red wooden barn on our family farm was built with Amish technology with its peg-in-hole, instead of nails, frame.  
In fact, the way that one would know of Wood County's predominant German ancestry is its annual German-American festivals.
It also has a high concentration of English, Hispanic and Polish ancestry, among others.
Having a local university that brings students and faculty from all over the world also adds to the flavor of its culture.  Image being a college student and having friends from Europe and Asia.  Our county also has a lot of foreign doctors who are willing to share their talents to help us.
I always get a kick of reading the license plates of almost every state in our vast United States.  You can always tell what each state is proud of by the images and mottoes on their respective plates.   It is also not unusual to see some foreign license plates, too.
But our county has another diversity, besides cultural.  It has a community of differing disabilities, whether physical, mental, or emotional.  
It is not unusual to see someone driving down sidewalks in an electric wheelchair carrying a few packages, much as if it was their personal car.  Some of those people actually do drive to desk jobs in their specially designed vehicles.  
We have people with people with mental disabilities performing jobs in workshops and offices that were specially tailored to their needs.  And there are people with emotional disabilities that perform paid secretarial, custodial, and other jobs that they can handle.  They also do volunteer jobs in churches and civic organizations that are less stressful, but not less important.
What is the moral of all this?  Wood County has a lot of diverseness in many ways, here of all places, in the bottom of what used to be a hideous Black Swamp.  Yet we all contribute to the good of whole, and it is what makes our county unique and strong.  We all need each other because of our various skills and talents.  
Almost every farm looks different in the county, yet every one achieves the same mission:  To provide what is needed for us to survive, and have a little fun while doing it.  
Isn't that what life is all about?
(Tom Vermilya is a local mental health consumer and advocate for people with mental illness.)

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