Love Where You Live: Ashley Bowen couldn’t resist coming back to Hoosier roots

By Marshall V. King

Ashley Bowen was living in Barcelona and told her friends there of this wonderland where people leave their doors unlocked, everyone is nice, and helping others is the norm.

“I found out how much I missed my Hoosiers, my people here,” she said. “You know when you live in Barcelona and miss Indiana, it’s time for the Hoosier to go home.”

She’d grown up in Elkhart County and graduated from Concord High School in 2003 and then Indiana University South Bend. At age 25, she moved to Los Angeles to work for a famous jeweler as a gemologist.

That city didn’t sparkle for her. “I got so fed up with the L.A. lifestyle. Everything was so plastic,” she said.

“Hoosiers are some of the nicest, most gracious people in all the world,” says Ashley Bowen of her home state. (Photos by Grant Beachy)

She gave away her possessions and went to a small town in Peru with the Peace Corps for two years. After getting a master’s in business administration in Barcelona, she responded to the siren song from Indiana and came home. “It was the people. I remembered the people here,” she said. “Hoosiers are some of the nicest, most gracious people in all the world.”

She wanted to be part of how people help each other and got a job at United Way of Elkhart County as campaign relationship manager. In that role, she’s helping align resources to meet community needs. As she took the job, she watched the community come together to help those whose homes and businesses had been damaged by flooding in Goshen and Elkhart. “Everybody is rushing to help each other and we’re all putting together the resources to do that. It is just so cool.”

It reinforced how glad she is to be back and how much she loves this place. It’s the place where she’s purchased a house and is part of a neighborhood. She enjoys the easy access to golfing and kayaking. She is back among her people, but also in the land of all-beef hot dogs and whoopie pies. Those are among the many things she loves here. “I love whoopie pies,” she said.

Marshall V. King is a Goshen-based free-lance writer. He wrote this piece on behalf of Vibrant Communities.

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