By Danna Downing
Perhaps you are familiar with the Australian term walkabout. It comes from the Australian Aboriginal custom of taking a journey on foot in order to live in a traditional manner. Walkabout just popped into my mind as I was reflecting about all the goings-on in my life and our community during this spring season.
My walkabout was inspired by necessity at its start. I needed to distribute packets to Rotary members so they could sell 50/50 tickets for a raffle to be held at the Old Car Fest on June 9 and June 10. I also was delivering Older Michiganian Day information to encourage older adults to write letters to their legislators about budget issues of great importance to helping us older folks to age well and safely in our homes. Plus, Lucky, our new dog, needs to learn how to ride safely in the car and cross busy streets on our many walks.
As I progressed with completing my chores, I began to experience a sense of being on a life-affirming journey. Early on as I walked Lucky through the neighborhood, I had the opportunity to learn about a new book Leeanne Seaver is writing. Did you know that she is a full-time writer working with clients from all over the country? Another day, I chatted with a woman whose husband was scheduled for surgery at the University of Michigan Medical Center. We have been texting ever since. It is good to know that there is help around the corner.
On our Mothers’ Day walk, Lucky and I had a delightful discussion with a dear friend and her dog, Rose. We got to chatting about the importance of all the people and pets in our lives. This woman is one of the most kind and caring people I know. She makes a point of helping older persons who find it difficult to care for their pets. And no one does a better job of watching out for stray and lost animals she discovers on her walks with her dog. One particularly heart-warming story she shared was about how she rescued a stray kitten by hooking it up with a lonely older adult.
One Saturday I stopped by my community bank to meet with Mary Marshall, a bank administrator and fellow Rotarian. Mary will be helping us count and deposit the money Rotary takes in from the 50/50 Raffle. The bank is very pet friendly as most dogs know. Dogs on a leash are welcome. “However, we do have some dogs that stop in without their owners,” quips Mary with a chuckle.
Beyond close-to-home encounters, May offered a host of community opportunities to feel connected to the generosity and support found in our community. Recently seven STRIVE students and their mentors gathered for a celebration breakfast. To see my student excited about graduating was a true joy for me. It warmed my heart to see a tribute to Sue Moore when I visited opening day at the Farmers’ Market. Sue was a community treasure and a friend and mentor to me. It was gratifying to visit with Dennis and Margot Cunningham at the VHS Annual Honor Banquet where they presented the 36th scholarship in honor of their daughter, Julie Cunningham. I feel grateful to be invited each year to this banquet to witness the level of caring this community provides for its graduates.
I was also touched to be invited to a special luncheon held in honor of Delma Pelikan, who passed away recently. She was a stalwart volunteer dedicated to the Wednesday Winners program. This program has been focused on serving individuals with disabilities who can benefit from stimulating activities and socialization. It is run totally by volunteers and is supported with transportation and funding from South County Community Services. It has been in operation for over twenty-five years.
Lastly, I am thrilled to have my Alaskan family coming back to visit Vicksburg. My youngest son, Jason, is an alumnus of VHS and now the parent of his own high school graduate. It will be fun for us all to celebrate with stories of growing up in Vicksburg and life in Alaska. I think they will be amazed to see all that is happening here in South County and to feel the energy we have to share with all who visit or live here.
By Danna Downing