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Settling up as Old Settlers

When I “retired” two years ago, I said it was to take care of my three old ladies — my 18-year-old cat, who died last year; my 98-year-old mother, who died last month; and my 154-year-old newspaper, still going strong.

Having lived with my mom, I got comfortable thinking of her as an Old Settler and me, despite my 70 years and reflection in the mirror, as what she would call a kid.

Recent events have helped me realize I truly am one of the Old Settlers — born here, educated here through 12th grade, and now back here, trying (though some argue otherwise) to repay a community that got me started in life.

To those returning this Old Settlers weekend, I challenge you to do something more than just visit Marion and to go out of your way to support the community that helped make you who you are.

Now more than ever, Marion needs an outpouring that will pay forward the value of the life lessons you learned here.

One of the biggest challenges Marion faces is lack of capital for local businesses. Yes, it’s a riskier investment than you might get in your stock portfolio, but returns aren’t measured solely in monetary units. Helping your old hometown grow by investing in a startup or expansion that employs local residents is a tangible way to give back.

Not everyone has the wherewithal to do that, of course, but there are other ways to help. Marion is a tremendous retirement community. We may not be as sexy as other resort communities, but coming home offers its own rewards.

If you can’t relocate or invest, you can mentor local businesses or contribute ideas for civic improvements — becoming engaged in the community that engaged you in its midst during the formative years of your life.

When you walk across the stage Saturday afternoon or speak up during a class reunion, I challenge you not just to brag about your accomplishments, kids, and grandkids but to offer your ideas for giving back to Marion.

“Stronger together” doesn’t mean having current residents march in lockstep. It means, among other things, former residents walking beside them or at minimum talking to others about the virtues of their formative hometown.

That’s what Old Settlers do. They help keep their hometown vibrant by investing — monetarily or otherwise — in a community that invested in them years ago.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified Sept. 28, 2023

 

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