West Virginia makes us say ‘WOW' - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

West Virginia makes us say ‘WOW'

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David Clayman, Ph.D., is a clinical and forensic psychologist and managing partner of Clayman & Associates PLLC, Charleston.

It's been almost four decades since I first approached the Charleston airport at tree-top level as the small plane landed almost without warning. 

Off the hill I came into dusty road construction in stifling heat. This predated the interstate and all that has become today's Charleston. Little did I know on that day that this would become my home. The wonderful base where I would grow and thrive professionally, socially and personally. Over the years I have gone from an ignorant outsider to a proud and grateful West Virginian by choice, hopefully giving back to the state as much as I have received.

In spite of teaching and working throughout most of the 55 counties for years after my arrival in the fall of 1974, it wasn't until 1998 when I completed the Leadership West Virginia program sponsored by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce that I embraced the totality of the specialness of the state. I sat in amazement as a third grader in Wheeling, a child prodigy, wow'ed us with his classical grandness on the piano. Over eight months, my classmates and I listened to members of each community in which our sessions were held talk with pride about their pasts and their hopes for the future as they opened their arms to showcase their uniqueness.

Sixteen years later, I have remained active with the program and have continued to hear participants rave every year about their experiences. Wherever the 50 people in each LWV class go, they are exposed to the marvelous secrets of our state, creating excitement and sometimes even awe … wow. As with me, their experiences expand perspectives beyond one's hometown or county to that of the whole state where upon graduation they join many others who have been fortunate enough to see the wonders of our West Virginia hills. Friends are made … relationships connect us with a matrix of talented people from Huntington to Martinsburg, Wheeling to Bluefield, Clarksburg to Logan, Charleston to Parkersburg and all points in between. Now when good things happen anywhere in the state, it is cause for celebration not only for those with immediate proximity but also for all of us committed to bettering the lives of people in the Mountain State.

As with any convert, I can be a zealot at times, finding it appalling when West Virginia is rated at the bottom of many lists and surveys about quality of life. Most times I wonder how the data have been collected and what kind of supposedly random sampling had been done to find respondents. Others from the outside seem to want to keep us in a defensive and inferior position, and, sadly, we often inadvertently help because we are not good at self-promotion. We tend to become upset and resentful when demeaned. We don't quite know how to show off in a way that brings to light all the really wonderful treasures that give us a fantastic way of life. Bottom line … It really should be up to each one of us to showcase what and who makes West Virginia "Almost Heaven."

So, this has prompted a few of us to look around and realize that if we don't do something, no one will.  Spontaneously, when talking about the best things in West Virginia, the word "wow" popped up in regard to businesses, employees and employers who go above and beyond every day without realizing what a resource they are and how others value them. 

I think of Deb Jones at BB&T making every one of her customers feel special, or the staff at Green's Feed and Seed in Charleston going the extra mile to help care for feral cats, or seven individuals who helped one transplant stay in West Virginia when things were the bleakest, or countless small business people who regularly meet payroll and act as stewards for their employees and communities. 

We are looking for these people and businesses that do things to make life better for those who happen by, or make you feel special for a moment or remind you that great edifices are built one brick or plank at a time. All this so we can show the world we are at the top of any list of good people and wonderful lifestyle by showcasing our natural gifts that make others smile in awe and say "wow."

Have you ever had an experience with a business, boss or employee that left you with an extra-special feeling — a feeling that you couldn't wait to tell your friends and family about? Have you ever stumbled upon an unfamiliar, locally owned business in the back roads of West Virginia that you wished you could tell the whole world (or at least the state) about? Well, now is your chance.

Clayman & Associates, along with The State Journal and Leadership West Virginia, is asking for your help in the quest to find and recognize the "WOW" businesses and individuals of our great state. We are looking to identify and showcase the well-known and, more importantly, the not-so-well known places and people that make West Virginia extraordinary. We want to hear all about your "Wow, West Virginia" moments.  Email them to wow@claymanassociates.com and include your name, telephone number and a detailed account of your "WOW" moment (place of business, person's name, experience). This program will grow as long as everyone looks for and reports the good things. 

And just imagine if the world really gets to know us … WOW!