We are Mustang

column shots.qxdWe are Mustang.

Six years ago, it seemed there was a common attitude that Mustang was 12 square miles. You were in or you were out. At the time it kind of miffed me because although we lived within Mustang School District boundaries and had a Mustang mailing address, the fact we lived outside those limited borders was some kind of distinction.

That has changed.

Mustang has embraced the scope of its community and its influence. From city leaders to school administrators and beyond, people have recognized that the city is more than just a map – it’s a place that’s considered home by a diverse group of people who have a stake in making Mustang a better place, not just the growing “bedroom community” it once was labeled.

That was illustrated, for me, last weekend by a single person, a high school student who showed just how great Mustang really is. With Mustang High School’s band coming back from its first national competition, J.D. worked to spread the word about the band’s return from Indianapolis Sunday afternoon. Sure, he knew a lot of those band members and some of them were friends. But this boy worked to gather support for a group of people he largely didn’t know and then gave time from his own Sunday off – when he could have been playing video games or hanging out with his family or friends – to stand on a street corner and offer a warm welcome. He wasn’t a band parent or a band booster. He was just a good guy who gave of himself for others.

He’s not alone. Mustang is full of people who work tirelessly to help others. From the Kiwanis and Masons to American Legion Post 353, these groups are made up of individuals who are always there to lend a hand. Individuals like Dana Hall, who loves the people she cares for at Willowood Assisted Living so much she is constantly thinking of ways to make their lives better; there’s Don Kuntze, who attends memorial after memorial – no matter how sad – and who works to remind others how lucky we are to be Americans; and Dolly Priest, who has touched the lives of almost everyone I know in Mustang, make Mustang a better place – and those of us who are blessed to know them, better people.

We are Mustang.

That reminds me of the film, “We Are Marshall.” That was the story of a college and a town that endured and rose from the ashes of an unspeakable tragedy. That certainly isn’t Mustang because we have been so lucky in our fortune over all. But we still can rise above some issues that plague us, we can all be a J.D. or a Dana, Don or Dolly.

We still have bullying, certainly people live here who are cruel or unkind to others. That’s the challenge to us as we near Thanksgiving and take stock of our blessings. How can we make Mustang, and ourselves, a better place?

I guess the answer to that is to do the right thing, no matter how difficult that might be. Look for ways to help others – from giving some time at the senior center to showing support for a friend or colleague who is having a hard time. With a school district now topping 10,000 students, there are some who can use support. It might just be a smile or a shoulder to lean on, it might mean finding a way to provide a hot meal or some warm clothes.

It’s not New Year’s, but for me it’s time to make a resolution to try even harder to make Mustang a better place to live, to be more like J.D., like Dana, like Don and like Dolly.

We are Mustang. We are a community. And I am thankful to be a part of it.