By Stephen Schmidt
SOLON– It was all started by one innocent Fourth of July picnic.
Last year, Kathy Borowski, a resident of the Fox Ridge housing development who moved to Solon with her husband to be closer to her family, decided to get to know her neighbors a bit better by organizing a picnic on the Fourth of July.
As the fiesta commenced, Borowski and the others noticed that most of her neighbors shared an interesting connection: all of them had also moved to Solon from somewhere else in Iowa to be closer to their families.
“I just thought it was so unique that every person on our street had come here for the same reason,” Borowski said. “We all made the move because there’s nothing more important than family.”
From this common bond, a group called the Fox Ridge Friends has taken shape. Mostly consisting of retirees, the group of friends share activities such as golf for the men, and coffee, shopping, walking and day trip excursions for the women. The jolly bunch, which has grown to 15 couples at this point, also meets formally twice a month at Savvy Coffee and Wine Bar to plan the month’s activities, and has started paying monthly dues in order to raise money for community service. The friends say they plan to try to volunteer more in the community if possible in the future.
Although none of the members knew each other prior to moving to Solon, Borowski said a strong bond has grown between them, allowing them to build their own tight-knit community in a town where it’s sometimes hard for newcomers to find a place.
“I’m not sure if any of us would enjoy living here as much if we hadn’t found each other,” Borowski said.
Other members of the group agreed, saying Fox Ridge Friends provides a social support structure that is important for people as they reach retirement age.
“I think I would be lonely without it,” said Linda Fisher.
“I would be bored,” said Debbie Cooney, with a wry smile.
“We support each other,” added Kathy Cairens.
The members pointed out that it might not be an accident that so many retirees picked Solon. With its proximity to Iowa City and Cedar Rapids and the luxury and important services they provide, Solon still has the benefits of a small town.
“I think Solon has a very good location,” Fisher said. “The town should be proud that we all chose to come here.”
The members said they hope their group is a good advertisement for other retirees to choose Solon as well, although that might just be because they want more friends.
Or as Borowski put it, the members of the Fox Ridge Friends don’t have time for getting older, they are too busy having fun together.
“We’re all baby boomers, and we all think we’re just a little bit too cool to go on to that next phase of life,” she said.