By Jonathan Williams
Times West Virginian
A little more than a year ago, Megan Ramsey became the youth minister at Bethesda Baptist Church in Barrackville.
Since then, she and her students have been dedicated to volunteering in their community and the area at large, sharing their sunny dispositions and making a difference both at home and outside the state.
“I began the youth ministry (at Bethesda Baptist) in March last year,” Ramsey said.
A Barrackville native, she grew up in the community, but moved away for a few years after she got married.
“I just really wanted to come back,” she said.
And she did.
Shortly after beginning her new position at the church, she heard from Jackie Fitch, a family friend, about a project Fitch was pursuing. Tired of the trash piling up alongside Marion County’s roads and in its neighborhoods, she was organizing an event called Make Marion County Shine, a countywide cleanup event.
“We were looking for ways we could get involved with our community and give back,” Ramsey said. “It was just such a great thing to be a part of.”
So she volunteered to lead a group of students and citizens to Make Barrackville Shine.
“Last year was our first year,” she said, and a lot of volunteers turned out to make a huge difference.
“We had the opportunity to clean up around the school,” Ramsey said. “We also helped clean up around the covered bridge and the area around that and also just did a lot of walking around the streets. It went really well.
“We had lots of participants of all ages,” she said. “It was a great opportunity.”
Since then, they’ve been involved in many other projects to improve their world. The largest in scale was a mission trip to neighboring Kentucky along with several other members of the community, but they’ve done plenty closer to home as well.
For instance, Ramsey said, every week, a group of Bethesda youth group kids goes to Fairmont to work with Bruce Roberts, another Barrackville native, at the Fairmont-Marion County Food Pantry, based out of the Union Mission.
For Thanksgiving last year, the group organized a food drive for the local backpack nutritional program in Barrackville Elementary School and went to the Union Mission to slice pies and serve the county’s homeless and needy.
Saturday morning, Ramsey and her kids — related by blood and by faith — could be found working along the streets of Barrackville for this year’s Make Marion County Shine event. The older members of the youth group cleaned along Pike Street leading into town, while the smaller kids helped pick up litter and sweep dirt off the streets.
A group of 4-H kids led by Lisa Flowers worked at the covered bridge.
Children don’t often take kindly to community service, especially not when they get started around 8:30 a.m., but smiles and good moods were evident among the workers. They laughed, danced, sang and swept away the dust and debris that accumulate after a long winter.
“It’s honestly just a testament to who they are and the love they have,” Ramsey said, though many agree it is Ramsey’s positive attitude that serves as inspiration for her students.
Ramsey was humble, crediting others in the town for all the good things they do in Marion County.
“The people are really what make Barrackville special,” she said.
“There’s a group that meets every morning to pray for the community, the school and the students,” she said.
Local churches sponsor the backpack nutritional program and other after-school programs for students.
It’s a tight-knit community, and Ramsey said that without that communal mindset, what she and the youth group do would not be possible.
“I love that Barrackville is a small town,” Ramsey said. “Everyone knows everyone and everyone really honestly cares for each other, and I think that’s what sets Barrackville apart.
“This community just exudes support,” she said. “Anything that happens here, whether it’s BFC (Bisons for Christ), anything our youth group has done, Christmas in Our Town, Make It Shine, it’s just the people here and God’s love,” she said.
Email Jonathan Williams at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @JWilliamsTWV.