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Why am I here?

Sometimes I forget why I live here, why I have stayed here for 40 years. I think it might be nice to move to a bigger community like the ones we lived in when I was growing up. Now and then I think I would like to be a bit more anonymous. I get cantankerous about the rumor mill, the whiners, vandals, bullies, and manipulators, you know?

However, about the time I get to feeling that way, something comes along and I get to spend quality time with people who decide to pull together to do something that makes a difference. And then I remember why I live here, why I poke fun at the whiners and vandals, and laugh at the rumor mill. It is because we have truly good people in Peabody and most of the time they go the extra mile for the rest of us; they make us feel valued.

Saturday was a gorgeous day with a lot of sunshine and wonderful balmy temperatures in the 80s. It would have been a great day to play hooky from anything even remotely similar to keeping a promise to do some grunt work for the community.

But the cleanup of Walnut Street, Santa Fe Park, and the downtown gutters and sidewalks went off without a hitch. Members of Partners of Peabody Parks and Peabody Main Street were pleased by the number of volunteers … 43 … we counted and took names. Some were able to help for only a short time, others stayed all day. Together they put in 151 hours of assistance just because they heard the plea and decided to help.

The best part was that we had many age groups represented. Our new Girl Scout troop was there with a Daisy or two as well as some Juniors and at least one older brother. One young man stayed all day doing a community service project for his church. The new Adventure Club from the junior/senior high school had several boys and girls and sponsor Gene Green wielding shovels and brooms. And we had HUB boys and a sponsor, a Big Brother and his Little, and some kids who came “just because.” I got to visit with several young people I previously knew only by name and was introduced to others. They were funny and enthusiastic as only youth can be. I enjoyed them.

Several of us in our 60s decided we could no longer keep up with the kiddos. We pushed slower brooms, filled smaller shovels, bragged about our energetic young people, and enjoyed the sunshine. The guys and gals who stayed with the project until the bitter end and did the yeoman’s share of the work are my heroes. They deserved an extra measure of appreciation and awe from the rest of us, and they got it! They were an amazing group.

Some of the grocery store employees pitched in and provided extra bottled water and packages of cookies for the workers when we went in to pick up the pizzas for lunch! See how nice people are? How often do you think something like that happens at a Dillons store in Wichita?

And that is why I stay … now I remember. It is because here I know my way around. I know my friends and neighbors and know I can count on them. And I am not even going to mention those who weren’t there, but should have been. Not going to do it. If I head in that direction I am back to “cantankerous” and I was kind of satisfied to be able to bask in 40 years of enjoying this place.

Thanks to all of you for a fun and rewarding day and thanks for reminding me why I am here.

— Susan Marshall

Last modified April 7, 2011

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