Boomerang Residents

These Women Moved Away, But Came Back Years Later.

Tiavalya Befecadu

Tiavalya Befecadu moved away in 2004 to work on Capitol Hill, and eight years later she returned to start a family. “I love the cost of living, family inclusive events, and our arts community.” She smiles, “We have great schools, competitive housing, and southern charm. It’s why we’re the best place to live.” Tiavalya firmly believes, “There’s a sense of community here that some places don’t have. I was raised around a loving group of people from my church, school, and cultural organizations. The connection isn’t temporary, it’s permanent.”

When Tiavalya lived in DC she missed the lack of traffic, her loved ones, and ‘Thomas Pit BBQ.’ She still gets nostalgic thinking about Madison Square Mall and amusement rides at Braham Springs Park.

Her family has been here for generations, so this will always be home. “The people of North Alabama are innovators in science, art, music and education. We’re a shining example of putting hard work into practice and thriving.”

Her perfect day in Huntsville would include visiting Alabama A&M University and Oakwood University, touring the Space & Rocket Center, shopping at Harrison Brothers, and watching a Trash Pandas game.

Martha Lynn Coon

Martha Lynn Coon left Huntsville after graduating from Huntsville High School in 1996. She returned in August 2022. She had been longing to come back for sometime, but the pandemic truly clarified so much personally and vocationally with everything lining up last summer. “First and foremost, it was the community that brought me back. People here live a life focused on things that matter: taking time to enjoy each other, supporting your neighbor, giving back, and ensuring a quality of life is accessible." She states, "I wanted my kids to know what it feels like to be connected to their community and raised by a village.”

Growing up Martha Lynn was curious about the world; she longed for the intensity of a big city and craved travel and living abroad. Living most of her adult life in Austin, Texas, she missed the mountains and easy access to the nature Huntsville provides. “People are active and there are so many social and cultural things happening here, but also so many people here have an ease and joy about life. I missed the pace.”

As she’s grown older, she has also realized how unique the multigenerational relationships are. “I now understand how precious it is to know people over a lifetime. As a young person, that may seem boring, but now as an adult, living in a community where people might see their preschool teacher at the grocery store or know their HVAC technician over a period of twenty years is meaningful to me.”

The biggest change Martha Lynn has noticed is the abundance of locally owned businesses. “When I left in the 90s, we had a fraction of the locally-owned restaurants and creative ventures that are thriving in the city now.” The history and the culture are two things she believes makes Huntsville unique. “I think being from North Alabama is very specific and Huntsville has this unique position of going from a sleepy cotton town to an incredible epicenter of science and engineering in so many fields, yet it somehow retains an identity that reflects both of these realities.” She continues, “It can still feel like a small, southern town at times, but has the amenities and opportunities of a much bigger city.”

Lindsey Pattillo Keane

Missing her family and friends, the trails, and getting to places in 10 to 20 minutes, Lindsey Pattillo Keane moved back to Huntsville in 2017 after being away for 14 years. As she was finishing her MBA in Houston, she visited the Rocket City for a wedding, saw the change that was happening, and decided it was time. She was connected to her now boss and has been working for RCP Companies and the MidCity District ever since. Her first tasks were to get The Camp and its farmers market off the ground.

As a young adult Lindsey moved to be in a city with more amenities, entertainment, cultural events, diverse food - “I wanted to see unfamiliar things, get outside my comfort zone, and meet people from all over the world. I wanted to grow in a new place.” Moving back, she has fallen in love with the newfound energy of Huntsville. “There is a collective sense of making Huntsville even better than it already is. We are surrounded by smart people and good jobs. People want to see an increase in quality-of-life amenities.” Lindsey also sees others realizing their dreams, “With the farmers market, I see the front lines of community businesses and entrepreneurship.”

She remembers, “I’ll never forget driving back to Huntsville from Houston and being shocked by the strobe effect in my vehicle created by the sunlight peering through the trees. I had forgotten how big and beautiful the trees were in Huntsville.” Forever a local tourist, Lindsey describes her perfect Huntsville day: “A Land Trust hike or yoga at Light on Yoga Fitness, breakfast at Canadian Bakin, visit to Lowe Mill, a tour of MidCity, a river walk at Ditto Landing, foot massage at Wellness Massage on Cecil Ashburn, a nap, then dinner at La Esquina Cocina or Domaine South, and concert at The Orion.”

“First and foremost, it was the community that brought me back. People here live a life focused on things that matter." - Martha Lynn Coon

“With the farmers market, I see the front lines of community businesses and entrepreneurship.” - Lindsey Pattillo Keane

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