Falling in Love With Williamson
Teresa McCune first came to Williamson in 1977. She was a social worker in Huntington, West Virginia, and she came to help the community after a major flood struck the city in April 1977. “I fell in love with the place,” she says. “I decided this is where I would come after law school...and I did.” Though she worked in Logan for a couple of years, she lived in Williamson from the start. Since then, she’s become a fixture in Williamson, best known for the decades she’s served as a public defender.
Work Keeps Her Young
In January 2020, Teresa will have been a public defender for 30 years. She knew from her first days on the job that this was the path for her. “Within three weeks, I knew it was where I belonged.” She handles all of the juvenile cases in her office and recently received a Juvenile Training certification from the National Juvenile Defender Center at Georgetown law school in Washington D.C. “I love working with teenagers. I feel like it keeps me young.”
For Teresa, who is a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, her work as a public defender has ties to her faith. “My religion teaches me that Jesus called us to serve the poor. I honestly believe if Jesus were a lawyer, he would have been a public defender.”
Helping the Community
Teresa has also been a member of the Williamson Women’s Club since around 2003. “I had a very good friend who kept after me to join, and I told her I would join when my son went to college.” Since joining, Teresa has helped the club with a variety of projects for the community, including the preparation of Thanksgiving baskets for veterans and raising money for the battered women’s shelter. Teresa is currently working on a project she suggested to place feminine hygiene products in schools.
Teresa also works with Dee Kapourales, a close friend, on a yearly college shower for girls in Williamson. “It all started when we knew of a young lady who needed help going to college, but we didn’t want to single her out, so we picked two girls. It was such a rousing success that we’ve done it for most of the last 15 years...We just look around for a couple of girls who are going the farthest away based on their experiences.” Teresa and Dee help the girls to prepare a registry at Walmart of things they want, and, with help from the community, shower the girls with gifts.
Though Teresa does a lot for folks in Williamson, her favorite thing is her work as Founder and Director of the On Track For College program. The program began more than ten years ago when Teresa began helping her son apply for college. “In the schools, my nieces and nephew attended, they actually had classes that help kids prepare for college and help them to write their essays and so forth, but nothing like that existed in Mingo County. After my son’s experience, I helped other students the following year, and the third year five students came to me.” Since then, Teresa has coached students through the college application process and helped students get everywhere from community college to Ivy-League schools.
Teresa has called Williamson home for more than forty years, but she still appreciates its people. “I like living in Williamson because I love small-town life. I grew up in a small town. I like that I have to plan an extra half an hour when I go to the grocery store to stop and talk to friends,” says Teresa.