For nine months now, I’ve called Texas my home. And as welcoming and lovely a place as it has turned out to be, I expect it will be home for many moons to come.
That said, with parents, in-laws, friends and 38 years worth of memories made in Vestavia Hills, this city is never far from my mind.
I am following with interest the upcoming mayoral race, involving two gentlemen I respect immensely. I’ve worked closely with Mayor Butch Zaragoza, in my prior role as community editor of the Vestavia Voice, and during my service as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Library in the Forest.
In every one of our meetings, I found the Mayor to be informative, helpful and courteous. I always enjoyed our conversations, and remain proud of the positive progress the city has made under his leadership.
In consideration of where Vestavia Hills stands today, however, and what residents wish to see happen moving forward, I can think of no stronger advocate than Ashley Curry.
I’ve known Ashley and Marga Curry, as well as their children, Stuart and Anna, since I was 8 years old. Other than my own father, Ashley is one of the men I look up to the most.
Our families have spent countless occasions together, from backyard cookouts and catching lightning bugs in jelly jars to jet-skiing around Lake Martin. Between family gatherings, school and church activities, I’m hard pressed to find a childhood memory without the Currys in it.
In high school, I had visions of becoming a speech pathologist, and spent my Career Day shadowing Marga, who has made this profession her life’s work, all around Homewood City Schools.
Many years and one Bachelor of Arts in English later, I thought I had landed my dream job (naive 20-something that I was); it couldn’t have been farther from speech pathology, yet Marga was one of the first people I wanted to tell.
As a young adult, I began to see them not only as friends, but as true salt of the earth, servant leaders.
The kind of people who…
- volunteer week in and week out to serve food during Wednesday night fellowship at church, greeting tray holders by name and asking sincerely about the events of their week, because they know you and actually care;
- aren’t afraid to put in a little elbow grease, choosing to spend a perfectly good series of weekends laying down hardwood floors at the lake cabin themselves, when many would just hire the task out;
- demonstrate sound financial stewardship in deed rather than word, making it a lifelong practice to buy gently used instead of new (long before trading sites made it trendy);
- celebrate family in authentically remarkable ways, taking practice hikes in the American West to prepare for the hike of a lifetime – Kilimanjaro – all because it’s your daughter’s dream to do so;
- meet someone down on their luck and take the time to buy them a meal, learn their story and help them get back on their feet.
I think this is the one example that impresses me the most. More times than I can count, Ashley has crossed paths with individuals who were job-less, car-less, and by society’s traditional measures, hopeless.
But for Ashley, there is no “gee, that’s too bad” mentality or, one of the phrases I loathe most in the English language – “it is what it is.”
From a very real, very human place, without expectation of anything in return and simply because he believes he can, Ashley has worked to better the circumstances of those who feel broken.
Even when he set up job interviews for people who never bothered to show up.
Even when his once fledgling, now thriving Car Ministry seemed like a nice idea that would never materialize.
Even when he’s had his own challenges, when anyone else would have said “to heck with this – me first,” Ashley has never turned a blind eye to the needs in his midst. It’s just not his way.
In a time tarnished by sarcasm, snark and cynicism, Ashley and his family are refreshingly goodhearted and godly people.
Vestavia should be so lucky as to have him at the helm of City Hall.