West Virginia Executive Summer 2019 | Page 20

[ community ] Young Guns “I want to give back to the county that gave so much to me. I want to provide better opportunities for those who are here now and those who choose to stay here in the future.” Christy Laxton Christy Laxton, executive director of the Wyoming County Economic Development Authority, wakes up every day with the goal of making her community a better place. When she was named a member of the Young Guns Class of 2016, her nom- ination stood out, in part, because of her long list of community service efforts. That same commitment to service has now earned her another honor. Earlier this year, she was recognized as one of three recipients of the West Virginia Jaycees Outstanding Young West Virginian Award. This award celebrates people who have distinguished themselves in their careers and/or through community service. “I work hard in the community I grew up in because this community worked hard for me, and this feels like what I am supposed to be doing,” she says. “To continue to be recognized for my efforts is so amazing.” Laxton currently serves on a total of 19 boards and committees that impact Wyoming 18 WEST VIRGINIA EXECUTIVE County, the region and the state of West Virginia. She devotes her time and talent to organizations that support community growth and economic development, includ- ing the Southern Economic Development Council; West Virginia Economic Develop­ ment Council; National Coal Heritage Area Authority; MountainHeart Community Services, Inc.; Wyoming County Economic Development Authority; Wyoming County Planning Commission; Region One Plan- ning and Development Council; and Blue- print Communities. She also contributes to groups that support tourism, education and the business community, like the West Virginia Loan Fund Collaborative, West Virginia Land Stewardship Corporation, Mullens Area and Oceana chambers of commerce and Wyoming County Board of Education, as well as Visit Southern West Virginia, Leadership Wyoming County, Just for Kids Child Advocacy Center and Wyoming East High School. For Laxton, community service is much more than just showing up to board meet- ings and organizing food drives. For this West Virginian, it is an opportunity to pay forward her good fortune so others can prosper as well. “I grew up poor, and so many people in this community provided for me back then,” she says. “Now I want to give back to the county that gave so much to me. I want to provide better opportunities for those who are here now and those who choose to stay here in the future.” Despite working full time and raising a family, Laxton is still able to make giving back a priority. “For me, community ser- vice has always been something I needed to do,” she says. “In my opinion, community service is showing kindness to people and helping others, and that is what we all need to do. It just takes a little bit of time to help someone else out, and if we all did that, we could get a lot more done.” For those who are looking to get involved in their community, Laxton has some advice on taking that first step. “Getting involved is as simple as asking someone if you can help,” she says. “I can promise you they would be happy to accept your ideas and guidance. You don’t have to have money or supplies to help. Sometimes you just need a little bit of time to share your skills or thoughts, and it will make a difference in that project.” Laxton is proud to serve the Mountain State, and she hopes that through her in- volvement others will discover the beauty of West Virginia and its people. “West Virginia is my home, and I want other people to see how great it is here,” she says. “When you hear out-of-state visitors talk about how much they love it here, you realize they get it—they see the beauty of the rivers and trails, and they experience the magic of evenings by the fire, nights at the ball fields and the changing seasons. West Virginia is also where neighbors help neighbors, and that’s one of the reasons I choose to stay here and give back.”  MAGGIE HATFIELD BRIDGET WALKER PHOTOGRAPHY