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Community Resource Mapping


Kendra Dickens
Kendra was born and raised in Arnett. She attended school at Mountain View Elementary, Marsh Fork Junior High, and Marsh Fork High. All the schools she attended are now closed. After graduating from high school, Kendra moved to Kanawha City to attend the University of Charleston for two years, but transferred to Beckley College of West Virginia (now Mountain State University), to finish her bachelors degree in nursing. She continued her studies to earn a masters degree in Special Needs Education. After completing her schooling, she returned to Arnett and got the first nursing job she applied for.
 
Kendra sees a need for more community centers “since they took away the high school,” and more things to do that don't involve driving to Beckley. “Having something for the kids to do like a youth recreation sports time would be really great.” To meet the need for community and youth activities, Kendra would like to start a recreational youth football team.
 
The new Marsh Fork Elementary School is a step in the right direction, and she hopes more families will move to the area because of it. Still, she anticipates that the new school will face similar challenges as the old one: “Because we're the western end of Raleigh County we always get left behind, and get the short end of the stick. We only get hand-me-downs from the other schools in the county, and it's probably politics. They think that there's nothing down in the Coal River Valley, even people in political positions like the school board treat them like "white trash" and have said things like "Oh you're from the River."
 
"Everyone thinks we're uneducated but they're wrong."
 
Kendra also says that people in the community are different than people in cities. “They're more connected to one another and they're there for each other. Lots of people would consider it boring.” Family is of central importance to her life and the life of her neighbors. Church and God are pillars in the community. 
 
Kendra says many people are prospering now. “Sure lots of folks are miners, but there are a lot of people in the Coal River Valley who have graduated with masters and doctorates. And it's not that they have to live in the Coal River Valley, they choose to.” 
 
Kendra's house shakes almost daily from blasts on mountaintop removal sites and Kendra says that Massey miners have no respect when driving on Route 3 to and from work, endangering school buses and drivers. “Folks need to come to understand the folks who live and be respectful of the place they choose to live.”