Ashford pride earns man “Silent Heroes” award
ASHFORD, Ala. (WTVY) - Like many Wiregrass communities, Ashford is close-knit. It wouldn’t be possible without those who go above and beyond. From yard work to performances, one lifelong resident is on a mission to make sure everyone both young and old gets the most out of their hometown. His efforts have made him this month’s silent hero.
It’s no secret Joel Waller loves Ashford.
“I’ve been here all my life,” Waller says, “I feel like it’s home I feel like I know everyone, that’s one of the things I love about being here is I get to do a lot of things in the community.”
With many fond memories of growing up, he recently noticed kids at Ashford high weren’t getting the same experience.
“These kids that are juniors and seniors have never had a normal year of high school, I noticed that the kids weren’t participating with COVID they kind of lost track of how to do things, so I said to myself let’s get them involved. We started doing prizes and theme nights and all kinds of stuff and finally got a student section back,” Waller explains.
Waller also helps with announcing during Ashford’s football games, as well as lends a helping hand to the band.
“My daughter was in band and I took care of the practice field for them and then once she graduated I still kept doing it. People said ‘why do you want to do that if your daughter’s graduated?’ I said well my daughter may not step on the practice field Monday but somebody’s daughter’s going to. I want them to know somebody cares about them, their passion about what they’re doing and wants to see them be successful,” he says.
It’s not just young people Waller stays involved with. He also volunteers at area senior centers, organizing events and even performing for them.
“I realized all those things I did while I was in high school were brought about by the people who are seniors now. They’re the ones that did that so it’s time to give back to them as well. Something as simple as singing at a luncheon just to entertain them,” Waller says.
These tasks in addition to his family and work keep Joel running around, but he believes it’s worth it. He realizes a community is only as good as he and everyone else makes it.
“In large towns you don’t get those opportunities to know everybody, you walk down the street and people speak to you, you’re in a restaurant and people come over to your table and talk to you, it’s just neat to know everybody and have those relationships,” he says.
Joel Waller also helps out with the Downtown Ashford Redevelopment Authority by hosting a webcast highlighting upcoming events and initiatives. You can view them on their official Facebook page.
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