When the NSN chose to award the JJ Reneaux Mentorship Award for a partnership between Dovie Thomason and me, my initial perspectives were recognition and gratification. I didn’t foresee the opportunity for growth, humility, and richness of purpose that it would provide.
During the grant award year and time since then, working with Dovie has broadened my ideas of what story is and how to use it. I have newfound ideas of building community when I tell to Appalachian audiences and a wiser path of direction when telling my stories to non-Appalachian audiences. I am building on the idea that a storyteller is historian, entertainer, and culture bearer; storytelling is integral to community and identity.
The NSN helped us take the first step in this relationship which has grown into a mentorship, a guidance, a sacred leadership, and a family. My work and life as a teller have been changed by this mentorship and I count it as a highlight in my experiences thus far.