Musings of the Iowan of the Day

I am an Iowa girl through and through.

I was born in Davenport. I spent summers on my grandpa and grandma’s farm near the Quad Cities.  I am Iowa State University educated. And I have lived all but two years of my adult life in the great state of Iowa. My husband passed away years ago, and our four children have grown and flown, but I am still here. I will always be an Iowan. I really cannot imagine living anywhere else. Simply put, I love this state.

Nevertheless, it came as a total surprise to me when I received a phone call telling me I had been selected as Iowan of the Day at the Iowa State Fair. I was one of 10 state residents who were chosen by the Blue Ribbon Foundation for recognition each day of the fair, based on  their “strong work ethic, loyalty to helping others and an exceptional sense of Iowa pride.”

A lot of people have personal profiles that are similar to mine, so I am not certain why my name managed to float to the top of the nominations. After all, there are about 3.5 million residents in this state.

What I do know is this: Iowa is great because of her people. Iowans care about each other and are quick to step up and help fellow citizens and causes when there is a need. Some might say Iowa’s strength is her volunteers.

Iowa has been good to my family and me. Our children all received their K-12 educations in the Central DeWitt Community School District (CDCSD), have gone on to higher education and have careers that are rewarding and meaningful to them. They have had a strong work ethic modeled for them all their lives. They experienced “Iowa Nice” in the form of support, encouragement, and kindness from their teachers, “first job” employers, Sunday school teachers, scout leaders, coaches, mentors, friends, neighbors –and even people who didn’t know them particularly well but still cared about them.

The greater community of DeWitt was absolutely the best possible place my husband, Al, and I could have chosen to make our home back in 1972. I am so glad we did. And the longer we stayed, the more we realized we needed to be a part of giving back to make sure the community didn’t lose its hometown feel.

Like many families, we have had our share of crises as the result of accidents, illnesses, Al’s death, and our grandson’s life-threatening heart defect. Each time, we have been wrapped in DeWitt’s love and caring culture. That is something we can never repay.

And so, volunteering is my small way of paying it forward for all the blessings and kindnesses we’ve been shown. All the wonderful, thoughtful, kindhearted and helpful people who live in Clinton County inspire me. They are the reason I try each day to do my best to make our small part of the state the best it can be. It is why eastern Iowa is the best place to live, work, do business and raise a family.

I am humbled and proud to have been recognized as a volunteer, but it really all boils down to the advice Central DeWitt grad, Dean Banowetz offered to the Central DeWitt graduating class at commencement last May. “If you see something that needs to be done, do it,” Banowetz challenged.

Do what you can, when you can. Practice the Golden Rule. Share what you have to share. Be helpful instead of hurtful. Know that even a small act of kindness that seemingly may go unnoticed can give someone the boost they need to go on with their day.

There are big and small ways to be get involved. It doesn’t take a huge time commitment to raise your hand and say, “I can bring a pan of bars,” or “I’d like to help with that project.”

But the more you do become involved, the more you will want to do a little more —because that is what living in a small community is all about.* 

Mary Rueter, Community Volunteer Extraordinaire

* If you’d like to volunteer or get involved in the DeWitt area, reach out to the DCDC staff for suggestions, download our list of Clubs & Organizations, or visit our Employment & Volunteer Opportunities page on the DCDC website.  If you have a volunteer opportunity your organization would like to share, you can post it on that page as well.

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