Editor's Note: We are Hope is a new series profiling interesting people in the town of Hope and northeastern Bartholomew County. If you have a suggestion for a person to be profiled in "We are Hope," you can e-mail editor@hsjonline.org.

When Michael Dean moved his family to Hope in 1990, he knew very little about the community. Now, nearly 30 years later, Dean says there is nowhere else he would rather be. During his tenure as director of support services with Miller’s Merry Manor, Dean traveled extensively throughout Indiana visiting other Manor facilities and says there is no place like Hope. In a recent conversation, the 56-year-old reflected on his time in Hope, the changes he’s seen, and what he believes makes Hope the place to come home to.

What is it, would you say, that makes people put down roots in Hope?
When I took a look around when Don Dillman was alive, it really surprised me how many of the leadership positions in Hope are filled by people who aren’t from Hope. I think a lot of it is that people from Hope take it for granted that this is the way it is. Those of us who have been around other places know that isn’t true. Other places are very different. People I know, like Randy Sims, are not from here and we know how special Hope is and that is why we work so hard to keep it that way. The other thing I’ve noticed about Hope is people aren’t afraid to take chances to make things better.

How would you describe the energy of Hope?
It is kind of cliché, but we keep ourselves grounded in the past and look to the future. You take the things you’ve done, and done well in the past, and find a way to make them work for now and in the future.

When you talk to those who may only know Hope by name, how do you describe the town?
It is really surprising, a lot of times I don’t have to because they already know. I think a lot of it is because of the roads that go through us, State Road 9 and 46, we are well publicized in what we do. We get 35,000 people in town for Hope Heritage Days and it doesn’t take long. You would be surprised by the number of people I talk to all over Indiana that already know where Hope is.

What do you enjoy most about the Hope community?
I can tell you the first time it ever happened to me. Tab Herron has a gift of knowing everyone’s name. If you are introduced to him once, he will remember you forever. I remember going to a baseball game shortly after moving here. I didn’t remember meeting him, but when I walked up he said, “Hi Michael! How are you?” I looked at him like, “How do you know my name?” and it was like that for the first year, I would see people on the street and they would say, “Hi, Mr Dean!” Just being able to walk around the square, you wave five or six times and they know you and you know them. It is neat to go to other towns where that doesn’t happen, but you feel lonely. You are anonymous. Once you’ve been somewhere once in Hope, people know who you are.

What would you say are the benefits of raising your family in Hope?
The way that the Hope community has treated us has gone a long way in determining who my children are. It started way back when we first moved here, having the imprint of the people of Hope on my kids. All the teachers and coaches they’ve had have gone into them turning out halfway decent. Even though they grew up in a little town like this, they aren’t afraid to go places and do things. I find that a lot with kids from Hope. It’s not like other small towns where they may be afraid to go out and try new things.

One story I always tell is I went to a basketball game and had people ask me, “How long has that black truck been in your driveway?” Some people would see that as everyone being in your business. I’m going around asking, “Who is at my house?” Come to find out it was one of my son’s friends who had stopped by to pick up a CD or something. But, still, I knew someone was in my driveway. I’ve great neighbors. We get new neighbors, but they stay. Before Facebook, we had Hope.

If you were to tell HSJOnline readers one thing about Hope, what would you say?
Just don’t quit. Don’t stand still, it is hard to hit a moving target.