Small town living and giving

Sometimes I think people on the coasts think that our farms and small rural towns out here in the middle of the rectangular states are for no reason other than to keep the strip malls from running into each other. Well, that and to dump their waste out here where, on the rare occasion they pass through, all they see is “nothing for miles.”

Well, if you’re from a small town or presently live in or near one, you know that there is a lot going on in these small country towns, including a quality of life that can’t be
beat! When driving by a neighbor’s house, we may slow down and potentially strain our necks looking at what’s going on there, but it’s not “snooping” as much as it is checking up on each other. Oh sure, we may have a tendency to gossip about each other now and then. But there’s a fine line between gossip and simply catching up on everyone’s well

I had the opportunity to check up on many of my neighbors over the weekend. Saturday morning, Belvue, the small rural community that I live near, had a memorial breakfast for a local family who had lost their three-month-old daughter to a muscular atrophy disease. I was honored to have been asked to help. Part of my job description was to chat with people while they dug into their biscuits, gravy, eggs and sausages. I was more than happy to help, and relieved I was given a job for which I have some proficiency. After all, I’ve been fairly successfully talking now for several decades!

One of the things I learned was that not that many of the people who came to the breakfast and dropped bills and checks into the jar knew the family to which the proceeds were going. It didn’t matter to any of them whether they knew them or not. Someone in our community needed help, and everyone was happy to help out. In the three hours that breakfast was served, close to 150 people came by to contribute toward the family’s medical and funeral expenses. Belvue has a population of only 205.

That’s one of the things about living in small town communities – they really do take care of their own. Belvue has a community breakfast every first Saturday of the month as a fundraiser for the new city park. So far the park sports a ball diamond, basketball court, a shelter house, some new playground equipment and horseshoe pits. A volleyball court, huts for the horseshoe pits, bleachers and other projects are in the works or planned for the future.

Now this little town of a couple hundred warm bodies could have sat around complaining that there was no place for kids to play, that there was no government help when they needed it, and that they were too small and too poor to attract corporate donors. But they didn’t. They got to work, pulled together, and over the years have built their park from the ground up, one volunteer, one step,
one plate of eggs and sausage at a time.

And when someone in the community who is sick, or is facing a serious challenge, who needs a ride to the doctor, or a hand up, or who has lost a child and are facing enormous bills they cannot pay, the people in small rural communities step up and take care of each other. That’s what small town people do. They do what they can, wherever they are, with what they have.

I’ve lived in several cities through the years, and they aren’t always as cold and uncompassionate as many in the country may think. But for a taste of the good life, give me a small town any day – along with some of those home-cooked biscuits and gravy!

Published on Mar 7, 2012

Grit Magazine

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