Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette Misty Thomas, third from right, accepts a $5,000 donation on behalf of Saving Hope Charities for her entry in an essay contest hosted by Shelter Insurance. She is pictured alongside numerous local and regional representatives from Shelter Insurance, including Donna VanMeter, third from left, and Lillie Baxter, middle, both from the Leitchfield Shelter Insurance office.

Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette

Misty Thomas, third from right, accepts a $5,000 donation on behalf of Saving Hope Charities for her entry in an essay contest hosted by Shelter Insurance. She is pictured alongside numerous local and regional representatives from Shelter Insurance, including Donna VanMeter, third from left, and Lillie Baxter, middle, both from the Leitchfield Shelter Insurance office.

Area resident Misty Thomas was recently named a winner of an essay contest that earned a $5,000 donation for Saving Hope Charities.

Each spring, Shelter Insurance holds a Facebook essay contest called "Thankful for Our Communities," and five winners each receive a $5,000 grant for the charity of his or her choice. This year, Thomas was named one of the five winners for her essay titled "Grayson County: The Land of Lakes, Bees, Cheese and More."

For her charity, Thomas selected Saving Hope Charities, a local nonprofit that serves as a nondenominational, Christ-centered living facility for women with children or expecting mothers who are seeking to break the cycle of poverty and change their lives for the better.

Saving Hope Charities does this by offering a six-month to one-year residential program in which women take part in a curriculum that teaches a variety of skills, such as parenting and relationship skills; child discipline methods; home maintenance; cooking; banking; and obtaining their GED and college enrollment if they wish.

Saving Hope also seeks to help its residents find jobs. The women are responsible for paying $75 each week, which helps cover curriculum and building expenses.

Thomas took a leave of absence from her primary job at Dan Powers GM Center a number of years ago to help get Saving Hope Charities off the ground, and, while doing so, she served as its program director/public relations director.

"I'm just extremely blessed to get to do what I do with Saving Hope Charities," said Thomas. "I'm thankful for community partners who chose us to participate in the contest. God is good all the time."

In a statement on its Facebook page, Saving Hope Charities thanked Thomas for her essay and support of Saving Hope, as well as Shelter Insurance, particularly local agent Donna VanMeter, for the donation.

The rules of Shelter's essay contest required entrants to write about what makes their communities special and to have their Facebook friends vote on their essay. The essay earning the most votes was the automatic winner, and the next nine essays with the most votes were submitted to a panel of Shelter judges who chose the next four winners.

"We chose this approach because we wanted to point out the many positive aspects to the communities we serve and honor the people who can make a difference in those areas," said Frank Thompson, vice president of marketing for Shelter. "We also wanted to find out what's important to the citizens in these communities and help support those causes. This contest was a fun way to do that."

Thomas's essay highlighted Grayson County's people, businesses, tourism, churches, events, music, and restaurants, among many other things. She describes the county's residents as "being generous people who take care of each other in times of need."

In addition to the donation to Saving Hope, Thomas received a gift card and certificate for her winning essay.

For more information about Saving Hope Charities or to contribute to its efforts, visit www.savinghopecharities.org.