OHIO VALLEY — A group of like-minded college-age and graduate professionals are seeking a new direction for an area plagued by drugs and poverty and they’re doing it “Only In Appalachia.”
Only in Appalachia calls itself a social media movement aimed at harnessing the “power of digital storytelling, through photo, video and written communication to develop an engaged audience determined to redefine the Appalachian narrative,” as per its mission statement.
“We’re working on getting our official 501(c)(3) (tax code) to be considered an official nonprofit,” said Only in Appalachia Co-Director of Content Creation Brady Schlabach, from Berlin but currently attending Ohio State University.
“We actually are technically partnered with the iBELIEVE Foundation and our core group, that’s kind of where we came from,” continued Schlabach. “iBelieve is a foundation started by Patrick Klein that gets students out of high school and puts them in a workshop in the summer where they get to be on college campuses, learn leadership and make new friends. So, we all staff those together and built a bond there and saw the need that is in Appalachia for a narrative change.”
“We see every day there’s awesome people here doing incredible things…,” said Schlabach. “It started out with us wanting to share stories of people in the region doing great things. Teachers and doctors and prominent people in the community who are helping out and giving back. We want to show people outside of the region what it can be and show people in Appalachia they can reach for their goals in what they grew up in.”
Only in Appalachia started in July 2018 and has roughly 7,760 followers on its Facebook page. The group frequently meets via Skype sessions to plan its next actions.
The group has an Instagram, Facebook and Twitter account and around three times a week will feature new individuals or groups to share their story. The efforts have since expanded into blog posts on the Only in Appalachia website and the group now is in its third season for video productions.
“We’ve got some bigger names like Steve Evans coming up from the Bob Evans family and more,” said Schlabach.
The group recently led a community service day in Jackson at Hammertown Lake with 40 volunteers in an attempt to clean the area while also partnering with the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio.
“We really want to hit on the spring and summer doing more of those community days,” said Schlabach.
Joining Schlabach are Director of Strategic Vision and Operations Matthew Benson, a Chillicothe High School graduate and Ohio University student; Co-Director of Content Creation Marlee Maynard, a Southern High School graduate and Cedarville University student; Co-Director of Community Engagement Jordan Moseley, an Alexander High School graduate and Ohio State University student; Co-Director of Community Engagement Katie Exline, a Jackson High School graduate and Otterbein University student; Creative Director Max Leu, a John Carroll Catholic and Ohio State University graduate; and Director of Special Initiatives Cole Massie, a Jackson High School and Syracuse University graduate.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.