When I was named the director of the Kent Memorial Library in 2018, a friend said how happy she was that the job “went to a local.”
You could have knocked me over with a feather.
Even though I’ve lived in Kent for 27 years, having “local” status seemed impossible. I don’t have grandparents buried here! At the time, I didn’t even own a house in town.
I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa, for Pete’s sake! But the more I considered her words, I realized that my connection to Kent was real and significant. Our family had worked to establish roots here, and after all these years, we feel lucky to call this beautiful town home.
So how did two young people from Pittsburgh and Long Island put down these Kent roots?
At first, we both worked at Marvelwood (my husband still does), so when the school joined the community, we came along with it. But we didn’t really dig in until we had our children.
Having two babies on the top of Skiff Mountain made for a lonely life. Boarding school communities can be all-encompassing, but I craved more.
Once I could manage it, I started lurking in local playgrounds, desperate for other young families looking for playdates.
Those early friendships brought me to the library, where we, a group of young parents, convinced the children’s librarian to let us commandeer a toddler group. Those people and that place would be pivotal in nearly all future decisions about how we joined this community.
We found a great preschool, a friendly church, and volunteer opportunities galore. Suddenly we had playdates and dinner parties, cookouts and concert series, holiday pageants and pancake breakfasts.
Town events like holiday parades and free picnics were magnets that drew families and neighbors together. We discovered a fine little public school, the best trick or treat route, and the joy of raising a family surrounded by open space, wildlife, and quiet evenings.
As our family grew, it became clear that joining with others to help make Kent magic happen was the way to go.
I have always said that this town runs on the backs of its volunteers. So many of the beloved community events that make Kent special are managed by local people willing to pitch in.
I could list them all here, but such a litany would go on way too long. But anyone, anyone, can create roots here by getting involved.
You don’t need young children to make connections – just find an event or organization that seems interesting and dive in. We did and have no regrets about joining this community.
So, try it – maybe they’ll call you a “local” someday, too.
Sarah Marshall is a longtime resident of Kent.