Seeing a small town grow can be exciting to those who live there. Residents don’t have to drive to another city to have access to dining and entertainment, job opportunities start popping up more often and there’s increasing support for opening new businesses.
But even with its growth, Powdersville – a town just outside of Greenville with a population of around 9,600 – still holds onto its small-town, community-driven vibe.
“I feel like everybody almost knows everybody,” said Crystal Terry, owner of Limitless Nutrition. “For example, I had someone at my counter the other night, and, sure enough, somebody just walks in because they see that person standing in there. And then all of a sudden, they’re interested in what we do. With it being such a small community, it’s very impactful.”
Part of that feeling of connection comes from the people who have stayed for the long haul. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people moved away from bigger cities to rural areas to have more space and easier access to nature.
But other small-town residents have lived there for much longer. Powdersville is a place where people put down roots and raise their children. Some, like Stacy Bayne, operations manager at Kudzu Medical, have formed connections to the community over time through their work. Bayne grew up in the area and moved to Greenville after getting married but moved back to Powdersville in 2000. Since then, she’s stayed connected to many members of the community due to her career in the medical field.
“I worked at the pediatrician’s office in Powdersville for over 20 years as a nurse. I came to know so many of the kids and their families in this community well. It was so rewarding to be a part of their lives and the fact that my children grew up and went to school here, it has always felt like a full-circle connection to me. It’s a very family-oriented community, and everyone seems to blend well with each other.”
Of course, the pandemic has affected Powdersville just as it has everywhere else. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that people in rural communities were actually more at risk during a major health crisis because they have less access to health care and a higher risk of other health issues – rural Americans tend to have higher rates of high blood pressure and obesity and are more likely to smoke cigarettes.
Fortunately, several large health care systems have set up satellite locations in the Powdersville area,
providing better access to medical care. And being surrounded by outdoor space – like the Dolly Cooper Park in Powdersville, Falls Park in Greenville and the Doodle Trail in Easley – means there is more than enough incentive to get out and get active.
“Powdersville has that small ‘hometown’ feeling for all those who have grown up in our community,” said Anna Bradford, marketing director at Oakview Park Senior Living. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on us all, but having the right resources and supporting each other has kept our community thriving and strong. Helping families stay safe has been an essential part of my job, and I could not be prouder of our team and the health care workers that push themselves every day to make this community what it is.”
Having a close connection with members of the community is especially important in the health care system. Medical professionals are able to break down the barriers that can sometimes exist between them and their patients, making their patients feel comfortable and less anxious about what can sometimes be a distressing experience.
One of the health care systems that has expanded into the Powdersville area is Children’s Medical Center. The office, which had locations in Greenville and Simpsonville before moving to Powdersville, strives to “provide excellent patient care in a compassionate environment,” according to its mission statement.
Paige McKee, the office manager of the Powdersville office, said that the Children’s Medical Center treats everyone as a person, not a number, and that it reflects the strong feeling of community that exists in Powdersville.
“My favorite thing about working at the Children’s Medical Center is seeing all the kids from birth on up. Some of our patients who are grown now have their own children. So we have patients come in, and we’re able to communicate with them on a personal level. That’s one of our biggest things –still having a live person there to talk to on the phone. You don’t have to just sit and listen to an audio thing that tells you which options to select.”
The people who work in the health and wellness sector in Powdersville – the nutrition experts, the medical system employees, those in charge of staffing the doctor’s office and the teams taking care of elderly residents – care deeply about the people they serve. They truly enjoy building connections and being part of the community.
“We have a lot of people that say they’re having the worst day when they walk in, but then we try and make their day better,” said Terry. “For example, I had this guy come in today and he said, ‘I’m not having the best day.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, well that’s why you’re here, because you know, it’s going to be better when you leave’ and he just laughed and said, ‘Yeah, I know.’”
By Katherine Waters