Karen Weddle

Karen Weddle, Psychiatric Aide (CNA); Marion Virginia:

“My Mom had family here. She grew up, was born and raised here and then she moved to Maryland. She still had family here and they bought property here and I was still in high school so I moved with them.

Both of my sisters still live in Maryland, and they both have children now and I miss them. But I am glad and grateful that I have my parents nearby.
Technically [I am called] a second generation Urban Appalachian. 

[Living in the mountains] At first, I was a little uncomfortable, because it was such a small town and I was used to a big city. As I have gotten older, I appreciate it so much more. The people are just so much friendlier and so much more helpful. Whereas, in the city everybody I think, is too busy and rushed to be bothered.

[Living here in the mountains] It took a little getting used to. One thing I remember when I first moved here, they were talking about the Iron Street Mall on Main Street. I was like, ‘there is a mall in Marion, really?’ I thought there was nothing here. I found out it was just a couple little stores. My husband is from here and has lived here all of his life, so he kind of shows me the way around.

[Appalachian Culture] I think everybody is just so friendly and helpful and I love the mountains and the Appalachian Trail. I love it when the hikers come through.

You have people here from many different walks of life, and many different occupations and backgrounds. I think everybody eventually feels comfortable here…everyone is kind and nice. Like when I moved here from the city, I guess I probably wasn’t as friendly as the people here. 

In this particular area it’s like a small town. Everybody knows everybody, and I think that can be beneficial because you do bond and everybody helps each other in hard times, whether it be a sickness or a death. 

I am a CNA. I’m a psychiatric aide at the State Mental Institute. It can be hard, extremely hard at times, but it can also be rewarding. When people come in with a mental illness or depression you see them as time goes by become more ready to be a citizen and live productively. [Some of the challenges are] when you have people who are extremely sick and who don’t want to be there, and think you are the reason they are there. They can be very difficult and hard to deal with. I try to put myself in their shoes, because it could be any of us at any time. 

I love the summer, I love going walking in the woods at Hungry Mother Lake, just walking in the mountains and enjoying nature. I ride a motorcycle and we have lots of good roads for motorcycling and I really enjoy that. [I have been riding] for about ten years. I have a Kawasaki Ninja. You know the ‘back of the dragon’ and that’s like right in the backyard.

[I consider myself a hillbilly now.] In fact, when I lived in Maryland, when I lived in Baltimore, people said I had a hillbilly accent, and then when I moved here, people said I had a northern accent, because I had been here longer than I was in Baltimore. So I am more of a hillbilly than a city girl. [Hillbilly means to me] the relaxed atmosphere, the friendliness, nature and the mountains, and moonshine.

App-a-lat-cha! Is that right? [When I hear App-a-lay-shia on TV] I think that’s not right! They’re not saying it right. It’s kinda like when I was in the city, you don’t say Baltimore you say Bal’more.”