My Heartland Home: Meghan Smith takes us to Anna-Jonesboro

Many KFVS colleagues were born and raised in the Heartland. Meghan Smith takes us to her Heartland Home in Anna-Jonesboro, Illinois
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 5:41 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2023 at 6:27 PM CST
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UNION COUNTY, Ill. (KFVS) - In the heart of Anna-Jonesboro lies a community that’s not just a place on the map, but a home that molds people into the best versions of themselves.

The Anna Arts Center sits along West Davies Street. Inside the doors of this historic building, kids and teens are introduced to the world of arts.

“The mission is to share the arts with everyone; and we want to make this a welcoming place that everyone feels safe to come,” Norma Lee Hackney, director of Shawnee Hills Art Council, said.

Growing up, I played a lot of sports, but during my down-time, my mom wanted me to explore other activities. That’s how I found the Anna Arts Center, a world of arts I fell in love with.

It’s a sanctuary that echoes the spirit of giving back, while creating lifelong memories.

“People that come here, regardless of what they do, it’s another life skill. It’s another factor that helps mold who they are,” Hackney continued.

Every corner of this town holds significance, from graduating high school as an AJ Wildcat, to contributing to small businesses by advocating for shopping local, to finding my passion for news at the local radio station, WIBH.

“I think every community has its own personality, and I think the people are what make up the personality of the town,” said Moury Bass, co-owner of WIBH Radio.

My experiences here in Anna-Jonesboro became the foundation for who I am today. Amidst the many joyful moments, life threw my family a curveball when my little sister, MJ, was diagnosed with cancer.

But it was in this challenging time that our community became our strength, helping us realize we would never be alone.

“It makes you feel like if something would ever happen again that they would be there again, no matter what. No matter what you went through, they would back them like you said and help you in any way they could,” Marlee Smith, Meghan’s sister, said. “It makes, you know, that small town communities really do help a lot. More than you would think.”

Anna-Jonesboro isn’t just a geographical location, it’s a place that supports and shapes lives.

For me, it’s not just a hometown, it’s My Heartland Home.