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

Born and raised in Hope, Susan Thayer-Fye is a member of one of the original families who settled in the town. The 65-year-old resident says the community’s familial air is one that is not only inspiring, but it is a source of strength for both its residents and the town as a whole. In a recent conversation, Fye, who is the executive director of Main Street of HOPE, talked about what it was like as a child growing up in Hope, what it is that draws people back, and how the Hope community inspires and supports its residents.

How long has your family lived in Hope?
Our family goes back to the northeast corner of the county to the mid-1800s. I lived in Columbus for part of my life, but I keep coming back to Hope because that is who I am.

What is it about Hope always brings people back?
You know, I wish I could bottle that because very few places have it. I think what you have here is a community of a size that it is not too small, but not too big. Especially the locals who have grown up here, there is such a support system that you don’t get in larger communities where you tend to get lost. In town, the kids in school, if there is a young kid who is struggling, people circle around and help. When things go bad, the whole community is there. It has always been about that community connection. To find that support system that supports you throughout your entire life is a rare thing and that is what Hope has. That is why people are attracted to that. They want to know they are welcome and they want to know they have a place to go that is safe and secure.

What is something about Hope that makes you smile?
A big thing that comes up that I laugh about every single day is, if you have lived in hope for more than 20 years, you are related to someone. Everyone is related. And if you aren’t related to someone, you get adopted.

What do you enjoy most about living in Hope?
Everyone who lives in Hope -- we don’t have normal people who live in Hope. We have quirky people. You have to be a little different to fit in. I enjoy the different personalities. The people I work with on MAIN Street of Hope are typically people I went to high school with and have known my whole life. They have done unusual things in their life, they’ve accomplished amazing things.

What is your fondest memory of Hope, so far?
I graduated from Hauser in 1971. I have so many good memories of being in high school there and things that happened; I don’t know that I could pick out one. Going to basketball games, I played in the pep band. I played flute, piccolo and oboe. A lot of my buddies I still hang out with, we played in pep band in high school. Just those kinds of memories.

What would you say are the benefits of raising a family in Hope?
I think, for kids, from kindergarten through senior year, it is the support they receive through the school and the fact that kids don’t get lost in the system. The school is small enough that everyone has sufficient attention if they need help, and someone will step up and help them out. When I was a junior and senior in high school, math was always my best subject and I was good at it. For the better math students, I remember the teacher asking us to help students after school with math homework. I had forgotten about that and then I got together with a couple of my classmates a while back and they reminded me, ‘You used to help me out after school because I was struggling with math,’ they said. ‘Oh my gosh, you got me through high school.’ That is the kind of thing you don’t get at a big school. I had 56 in my graduating class. You knew everyone and everyone was family and we are still close.

What is it about Hope that inspires you?
I get up every day and do something for the town of Hope. What is there is worth preserving and supporting with your time and efforts. That inspires me to stay involved with all that is going on in Hope and to get involved where I have skills that help. I’m not the only one. There is a massive number of people in town who step up and volunteer and that is rare in today’s world. Most people don’t have or want to spend the time. But, in Hope, if you ask someone to help, they step up. The town sustains itself through the people who step up and are willing to do things. We are all in it together.

For those who have never visited Hope, what would you tell them about the community?
Hope is known for three things: It is known for history. It is known for its agricultural culture. And we do basketball. And, you know, it is working.