When Matt Beith left for college 18 years ago, he never again expected to call Franklin “home.” However, with each return visit, the college graduate turned young adult turned thirty something found it increasingly difficult to leave, and while visiting for Christmas in 2012, he knew it was time to stay for good.
“All the small town nuances, the things that teenage me hated, they were suddenly not such bad qualities. Over the 10 years before moving back, I started to see Franklin for the positives, instead of what immature self found to be lacking.
For Matt, it was the seemingly small things. Saying hello to someone you walk by on the street; a brief conversation with the person behind you in line; developing rapport with the business owners; the waiter remembering from last year still remembering your name.
Matt had lived in a handful of cities, towns, and villages through New England. He’s worked in grocery stores and in banks, most recently the manager of a working 200 acre sheep farm in upstate New York. He was engaged in the civics and societies of these various jobs and places. But only Franklin felt like a community. Here, the people care about one another. They are invested in each other’s daily lives and well-being. They genuinely care.
What was most attractive to Matt was the pride. Every person took pride in him or herself. They took pride in Franklin, and in Venango County as whole. It made it easy for Matt to do the same.
“It’s a good feeling to be invited into a community like this. You’re immediately given the opportunity to participate. You’re allowed to offer input. You’re given the chance to make a difference, to improve the community.”
Matt met his wife, Mishelle, as she was falling in love with Franklin for the same reasons. A native of Buffalo, Mishelle was in town visiting her sister, discussing the possibility of moving to town. Within a couple months, Mishelle was calling Franklin, “Home,” too.
Safety is a big priority for the young Beiths, now. Their first daughter, Ellis, was born ten months ago, and they don’t worry about her at all. Just about everyone they see asks about Ellie, and that’s extremely comforting to Matt and Mishelle. It makes them feel like they aren’t on their own; that Franklin is watching out for the three of them.
“Wow. I hated that growing up. I couldn’t do anything without my parents finding out, “ Matt reminisces. “But now, I know we wouldn’t find that anywhere else. The compassion we share with each other. It’s ubiquitous here.”
This isn’t the same Franklin Matt knew 20 years ago. It’s better, more engaging, more inviting, more compassionate, and has more potential than he ever thought possible. “There is unlimited opportunity here, if you’re willing to work for it,” Matt says. This potential inspires Matt and Mishelle to stay engaged in the community, and will for years to come. They are so excited for Franklin’s future, and can’t wait to help usher it in.