Get to know Grand Rapids (and the world)

Anne Wepman, volunteer

My conversation Monday is one of the reasons I started this project: To meet awesome people.

Anne Wepman is just that. She’s 99 years old, but she doesn’t act like it. Every Monday for 43 years, Wepman has volunteered at Michigan Blood. She won’t be there next week, but that’s only because she’s going to California for a wedding.

She’s seen so many “wonderful changes” to Grand Rapids, but all of them contribute to making it the “greatest city in the world.”

She has so much faith in humanity that it can’t help but make you smile, and realize that this is a really cool place we live.

“I like people,” she said. “People are wonderful. But only the bad ones are in the paper.”

Those bad people, the “crazy ones” as she called them are the ones that don’t appreciate all the wonderful things this world has to offer.

She knows the things that make Earth a great place to live, and says her good graces everyday to be alive.

She’s lived on her own for 20 years in the same apartment, and rent has risen three times, and only slightly. The landlord realizing the gem they have.

She stays far enough away from her daughter to only see her when she wants, (She laughed after saying so.)

She said she has days she gets out of bed and doesn’t want to do anything.

“But once I put my face on, I forget about that,” Wepman said.

Procrastination has no age limit, and the only way to make life worth it is to keep chasing goals.

“Years go by so fast,” she said. “You have to make up your mind to do things, and do them.

“You have to make up your mind that you don’t want to be old.”

The number one tip to age gracefully is to stay active. Get out the door, she said.

That’s why she’s volunteered for so long.

“The donors are so great,” she said. “I just want to tell them that they’re great and saving lives. Everyone is so pleasant. When you’re surrounded by positive people, you can stay positive.”

But my favorite takeaway is that in her 99 years of living in Grand Rapids, she says it’s always been great and has only improved.

Although the downtown isn’t the same vibrancy as when she was a young lady, it has its own charms now.

But no matter what, there’s always something to do, she said, noting the city has a symphony, ballet, world-class museums, colleges, and just about every thing you could need. A great place to raise children, too.

“You don’t have to go any place else,” she said. “It’s always been a wonderful city.”

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