“I found that it was something that was not only good for them ... (but) it was a positive influence on me,” she said.
And when she steps back from her unpaid work, the sense of pride she gets makes pushing papers and promoting businesses seem worlds away.
“You’re obviously doing something for others, but at the same time, it makes you feel so good,” she said.
“(Marketing) was great, but I never felt the way that I feel when I’m creating something with my hands.”
Unlike many her age, Summits said she enjoys involving herself in the community she grew up in. When she was young, she recalls the library as a hallowed, magical place.
“It’s an honor to be at the Cambria County Library, putting my work on the wall. I just think that’s kind of cool,” she said.
“I was one of those people who went to (college) and never thought I’d be back here. I’m really happy to be back and I really hope that I can, as a young person, make a positive impact on this community.”
Too often, she said, locals are quick to cast a harsh, disapproving judgment on the city, rather than taking action to better it themselves.
“I really think that there are so many negative things and people who try to bring this place down and just complain,” she said. “Paint a mural – I’m doing it. Participate in a trash pickup day or beautify a green space. There’s so many people you can get in touch with to do something like that.
“You can never say there’s nothing going on in Johnstown. I hate when people say that,” she said.
The road she’s walking is uncertain, but she said she sort of likes it that way. One thing she does know is she’s outgrown her loft.
“My projects are everywhere. I’m really hoping to get a studio,” she said.
“Down the road, I’d like to break out of Johnstown and maybe have some (works) online but right now, I’m just kind of building that.”
But, taking account of the present, Summits said she’s glad she gets to do something that makes her happy in lieu of a more lucrative job that she dreads every morning. And giving back to the community is its own reward, a feeling she sums up by paraphrasing Ghandi:
“Be the change you want to see in the world. Be the change you want to see in Johnstown,” she said.
“In the Spotlight” is a weekly feature of The Tribune-Democrat.
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