Returning home

Posted on 16 April 2014



Story by Ashley Johnson

In high school Allyson Whittaker had trouble finding her place among all the athletes as a dancer, musician and artist. She longed for experiences in the outside world but what she learned once she got there was how important her home of Bainbridge really was.

An ambassador and Arch Society member at the University of Georgia and former Miss Southwest Georgia, Whittaker thrived in college studying journalism. She lived in Washington, D.C. for a short while before landing a job in Panama City, Fla. as a television reporter for WMBB News 13, an ABC affiliate.

“But it just wasn’t for me,” Whittaker said, who then following in her father’s footsteps wanted to pursue a medical degree. She was accepted to the University of Georgia again and was set to start classes in August 2013 to pursue her career as a doctor.

But all those plans changed when she met Steven Whittaker, a Decatur County native she had somehow never known.

Steven and Allyson were married in January and the two are planning to set roots in Bainbridge and grow as a couple as they invest in the hometown community they are so passionate about.

Allyson works at Grace Christian Academy where she teaches journalism and yearbook as well as chorus.

“There really are a lot of people moving back that are our age because this is a wonderful place to begin your life together and start your family,” Whittaker said. “There are wonderful churches and wonderful schools and we just feel very lucky to be here.”

Moving home, Whittaker said she assumed the experience would sometimes be isolating, living in a small place but has found that to be a wrong assumption.

“I thought it was going to be isolating but despite the smallness of Bainbridge you don’t feel isolated at all,” Whittaker said. “When I wake up and get ready in the morning, I still feel the same excitement I used to feel living in a big city and I think that comes with not only having hope for the future of the city, but also being happy and content with where you are.”

And she does have a vision for how Bainbridge can grow and change. She would love to see urban renewal in the downtown area and even more young people moving home to start their lives in the city, bringing their creativity and energy, she said.

“Bainbridge has so much to offer and everyone we bring to visit talks about how charming the city is, so we could really use that to its full potential to draw people in.”

Whittaker said she and her husband Steven are excited to serve the community in many ways as they begin their life in Bainbridge, living in a historical home on Shotwell Street. One of those ways is serving their congregation at Grace Church.

She is also directing the teen musical at the Bainbridge Little Theatre this summer — a place in town where she could often be found as a child performing.

Whittaker has plans to stay for a long time and said she is encouraged to see others doing the same.

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