SNEEDVILLE – Who are your heroes? Local heroes, that is.

Someone who now lives in Hancock County or lived here at one time.

It could be a family member, a longtime friend, someone in the community who volunteers their time and talents to help others, or maybe a former school teacher, farmer, business person, or Veteran whom you admire.

No matter their age, gender, profession or whether they are young or young at heart, an Arts Education Community Learning grant through the Tennessee Arts Commission has been approved that is now funding the Hancock County Heroes Project.

This project seeks contributions from diverse ages and sectors of the local community that explore these questions: “Who is your Hancock County hero?”, and, “what does his or her life teach us?”

Each hero should be a living person who currently resides in Hancock County or lived here at some point in the past.

Anyone may nominate a community hero. If chosen, the story will be ultimately recorded in both a written narrative and with a portrait. Hancock County photographers will be commissioned to shoot these hero portraits.

“Like a quilt, our project will piece together tradition and modernity, youth and elders, past and future,” a spokesperson said. “Our aim is to document the varied ways that the people of Hancock County are heroic. Many stories in our Appalachian heritage testify to heroism, but they are often overlooked. These narratives quietly inhabit our daily lives, but they are often obscured by the disillusionments of living in a rural, isolated town frequently labelled as poverty-stricken and illiterate. We hope to capture the positive truths of our community through heartening stories of local heroes — stories that will be empowering and reconciliatory, reminding us of the values and possibilities in our identity.”

For example, your hero could be a visionary, caretaker, hoper, encourager, giver, or listener.

He/she could be someone who is an empathizer, peacemaker, reconciler, forgiver, embracer, helper, creator … someone who is fearless, who perseveres in the face of extreme hardship or loss, someone who cooperates or who is a lifesaver.

Candidates could be those who have overcome great adversity, or those who have survived in the face of what seemed to be insurmountable odds … heroes who are gentle, kind, quiet, and those who fight for justice for those who cannot fight for themselves.

Persons nominated as a Hancock County Hero may exhibit qualities such as humility, vision, love, faith, bravery, fearlessness, respect, tolerance, consideration, service, kindness, honesty, helpfulness, optimism, strength, hope, gratitude, thankfulness, generosity, determination, grit and wisdom, just to mention a few.

Submission Process and GuidelinesNominations may be submitted through email or in person to the project committee listed below.

There is no cost to participate.

This nomination should include a short essay or story describing your hero or a drawing to represent your hero.

Project directors will review submissions and notify nominators if they are invited to complete the story with the help of the project’s Hero Class.

The nominators will receive instruction and mentoring in biographical storytelling in order to tell the perfect story about their heroes. These nominators may write the stories themselves, or they can have the alternate opportunity to be paired with a writer who will record the story and create the biography.

The project will be shared through local media and displayed in public areas. A book showcasing all the portraits and stories of Hancock County Heroes will be available for sale at the end of the project.

We encourage everyone to have a hero, be hero, and submit your stories!

Miranda Russell, Project Director, hancockcountyarts@yahoo.com

Danita Dodson, Literary Director, danita.dodson@hcsk12.com

Colby Collins is the Photography Director.