By Skylar Griffith, Letcher County Central High School

Gwen Johnson is a mother, grandmother, educator, community volunteer and lover of Appalachia. She devotes her time to connecting people to their Appalachian culture and volunteering at the Hemphill Community Center. Johnson wants to create a community where everyone is happy. She felt a sense of hopelessness for her area, so she and a few others decided to roll up their sleeves to help the community. The “Back to our Appalachian Roots” project was merely a sprout of an idea that Johnson grew into a successful community activity. The project’s objective was to bring people back to their Appalachian roots through activities in the community. These activities include candle making, dancing, bee keeping, canning, quilting and many others. Johnson enjoys bringing her community together and hopes to get more youth involved.