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Keren Lightner became a volunteer on a dare

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Karen Lightner didn't used to worry too much about getting involved in her community, but since she moved to Rosemount two years ago things have changed.

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And it's all because of a dare.

Lightner lived for years in the north metro, but she never put a lot of effort into meeting her neighbors. She had other things on her mind. And she knew the area well enough that she didn't need anyone to show her around.

But in June of 2007 Lightner and her husband moved to Rosemount's Crosscroft neighborhood to be closer to their daughter and things changed. They didn't know anyone. They didn't know where things were. They didn't have many connections.

As luck would have it, Lightner happened to move in next door to Roger Rebling, an active member of the Rosemount Area Seniors. One day Rebling left an RAS notice on Lightner's front door and encouraged her to get involved.

"He said, 'I dare you,' which is not the word to use with me," Lightner said. "What better way to get to know your area than to get to know some people?"

Lightner filled out the form, and when she got to the part that asked where she'd be willing to volunteer to she misread and thought it was asking for her interests. She checked just about everything.

Rosemount parks and recreation staff probably figured they had a live one.

Lightner hasn't quite lived up to that original checklist, but parks and recreation supervisor Lacelle Cordes, who oversees senior activities for the city, said Lightner has become a valuable volunteer in her time with the organization.

Lightner has been active with the seniors' monthly luncheons, organizing food and inviting speakers. And she's volunteered to work with students in area middle schools.

Lightner also helps organize occasional outings for the seniors, including one recently to the Plymouth Playhouse.

Lightner, who is retired, has discovered she likes the activity her volunteering has provided, and she likes the opportunity it gives her to meet new people. She likes being part of the monthly luncheons -- she figures it's the best meal some RAS members eat all month. She's also responsible for finding a speaker or other entertainment for those luncheons.

"Working with people, that's my forte," Lightner said. "I enjoy people. I enjoy watching people do things, because then I learn by watching."

Getting involved with the RAS has also given Lightner some big ideas for its future. She'd like to see the group get a full-time coordinator. And she'd like to break down barriers between the RAS and groups that form at senior housing developments around the city. She likes the people who are associated with RAS. She just believes the group could be bigger and even better than it is now.

She's willing to work to make it happen, too. Dare or no dare.

Settling in

Lightner loves her new neighborhood and the people she's met here. For the first time in a long time, she said, she worries about missing neighbors when they move away.

There have been a few adjustments, though.

Lightner and her husband call their street hurricane alley because, lacking the tree cover she had in her old neighborhood, it sees some serious winds. She's bungee-corded her patio furniture to the railing to keep it from blowing away, and she's seen a neighbor's trampoline nearly escape the yard.

She also experienced a hailstorm in a whole new -- and much louder -- way.

"It was like living in a quonset hut," she said. "I had never experienced anything like that, and I had been through a tornado."

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