Gratitude

Turkey dinners, cranberries, candied yams, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and family gatherings—these are all commonly associated with most Americans in a celebration of giving thanks—Thanksgiving Day!

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The pilgrims could never have imagined that America would become the global superpower it is today. Our country is on the forefront of economic prosperity, medical science, technology, food production, sanitation, architecture and space exploration. We have freedoms unheard of in some other countries and we fight to keep and strengthen our freedoms.
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The income and standard of living for most Americans is relatively high when compared to other industrialized nations. But, this is a blanketed statement which overlooks countless people in our American communities. Many people barely scratch the surface to afford the traditional family gathering with turkey and trimmings. Some don’t even have family.​​​
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Gratitude
For me, Thanksgiving is a time to not only be thankful for the life I’ve been given to build upon, but also to think of others who are less fortunate. I joined friends to serve dinner to the residents at Tender Mercies in Cincinnati. These folks lent me a heart-felt connection and while they thanked us for their dinner,
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  •  I thank them for inviting us into their home,

 

  • I thank them for letting me meet them and

 

  • to get to know them a little better (some I’ve seen in passing when on my job at the public library),

 

  • I thank them for letting me give back to my community.
What is Tender Mercies:
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Tender Mercies is a supportive and transitional housing environment, located in Over-the-Rhine on 12thStreet (Cincinnati).
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Their stated mission is: “Tender Mercies transforms the lives of homeless adults with mental illness by providing security, dignity, and community in a place they call home.”
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Ongoing Opportunities to Give:
If you are in our community and would like to know more; perhaps help out, visit Tender Mercies’ website.
If you are in other parts of America and would like to find ways you can give to others, here is but one source to point you in the right direction: the website for Volunteer Match.
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What are your experiences with being thankful?
 Of community?
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In gratitude, 
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Be In the Moment with a Veteran

Adlai E. Stevenson (23rd U.S. Vice President) said, (quote) “Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.” (unquote).xxxx
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Dear Veteran-Friends,
The dedication that you—our men and women fighting for our country—is indelible. Your fight on the front-lines and commitment to public service enables us to learn compassion and grow intellectually. Freedom isn’t free. Those who are willing to pay the price, the time away from their families, and the endless dangers of the battleground are our true heroes. Our hearts and minds are changed forever and we are grateful.
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Dear Friends, here are some ways to remember our Veterans.

REFLECTION

  • Read something a Veteran wrote about their experience.
  • Write in your journal how thankful you are for the service of Veterans.
  • Take a private moment to be proud of your country.
  • Observe a moment of silence with family and friends.
  • Take a moment to reflect on what it means to live in America.
  • Hang an American flag in your yard.
  • Use Social Media to #THANKAVET!
SAY THANKS
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  • Write and send a letter to someone who’s currently serving in the military.
  • Thank a Veteran co-worker for their service.
 GIVE THANKS
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  • Donate time or money or supplies to local Veterans Day drives.
  • Volunteer to help a Veteran’s service organization.
 ACTION
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  • Shake a Veteran’s hand.
  • Teach a child what it means to be a Veteran.
  • Send an email to the people on your contact list that tells a Veteran’s story.
  • Attend a Veterans Day event.
  • Go to a Veterans Day parade.
 BE IN THE MOMENT WITH A VETERAN
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  • Ask a Veteran about their time in the military, and really listen to the answer.
  • Visit a home-bound Veteran in their home.
  • Visit a homeless Veteran under a bridge.
  • Take a Veteran out to dinner.
  • Take dinner in to a Veteran.
  • Buy a homeless Veteran a cup of coffee.
  • Mark on your calendar a day each month to do one of the above listed—even though Veteran’s Day will have passed.
Examining our past and learning from it means seeing not only our achievements, but our failings. Accountability to our communities involves not only creating a society which makes us proud, but also recognizing and then changing those darkest impulses which have marred our country.
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Additional Resources:

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https://www.operationgratitude.com/

https://www.dav.org/

  Please share a Veteran-story with us in the comments.
*In memory of my father who I came to know and love only after his death: Robert Frank Wells (1943-2015), Commanding Officer, U.S.N.R., Retired 1969. 
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Thank you Dad, for life
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Volunteering to Change Community Hunger

—–Saturday was another day of volunteering. I met with others also concerned with issues of hunger in our community.

I chatted with another volunteer, saying, “I used to be on the receiving end; now I’m on the giving end”

 

Assembly line style, with good spirits, we bellied up to a conveyor belt and boxed up gift packages of food to later be handed out to elderly folks. We filled several pallets.

Then, we switched gears to make Power Packs for school children.
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 I worked alongside a young guy whose mom worked across from me. His name is Eli and a sixth-grader. Helping his mom helped him to see that some kids could go hungry if it wasn’t for his help. He doesn’t have to worry about hunger but understands some kids do.
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Essentially, these Power Packs are “sack lunches,” each with plenty of stuff to keep a kid eating from when they leave school on Friday until they return on Monday.
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Kids who qualify for free or reduced lunches get these lunches only on school days, so these packs keep them going over the weekend.
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These Power Packs are distributed to schools. Our warehouse serves 105 sites across the greater metropolitan area of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

To find out who to contact in your local area and how, visit the Feeding America website.
On this page is a search bar for your zip code.
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And you can sign up to Volunteer  in your local area.
The direct link to their Website is:
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Contact Feed America or any soup kitchen, food bank or shelter local to you to find out what they need and how you can help out.
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Not affiliated with my Saturday’s volunteerism, a video by Unicef which I found on You Tube especially touched my heart.
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Well-spoken by fourteen-year-old Firdaus Ahmad Farouk from Kuala Lumpur, he is an active volunteer for a soup kitchen to feed the hungry and homeless. He was one of three winners for the inaugural Tuanku Bainun Young Changemakers Awards 2015.
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Thank you Firdaus Ahmad Farouk for your message. Here’s the 2-minute video:

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We can make a difference!
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Volunteering at Freestore Foodbank

Saturday afternoon, I joined others in a big (huge!) warehouse for the Freestore Foodbank, in Cincinnati.
We made “Power Packs” for school children.
Here’s what I learned:
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1. More than 13 million (million!!) American children live in households with uncertain access to food which supports a healthy life.
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2. (So,) donations of food items come in – from grocery stores, local partnerships, and community members.
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3. Volunteers (like me) unload the pallets of donated food and pack sacks. (“Power Packs”).__
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4. These Power Packs are distributed to schools. Our warehouse serves 105 sites across the greater metropolitan area of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
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5. These Power Packs are given to school children on Fridays so they can go home with power food to carry them over until the next school day, Monday. You see, our kids who qualify for free or reduced lunches get those lunches only on school days, so these packs keep them going over the weekend.
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(excerpted quote) “Those children can come to class and learn instead of focusing on their empty bellies….” (unquote). –Heidi Becker, Coordinator for the Power Pack Program with Freestore Foodbank, as printed in their newsletter.
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Feeding America is the national association of affiliated food banks, which includes Freestore Foodbank. Feeding America is the largest hunger relief organization, connecting community food pantries in every state of America.
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To find out who to contact in your local area and how, visit the Feeding America website.  On this page is a search bar for your zip code.
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Another option is to sign up to Volunteer in your local area. The direct link to their Website is:  feedingamerica.org.
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Contact Feed America or any soup kitchen, food bank or shelter local to you to find out what they need and how you can help out.
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And found on the Feeding America website and on You Tube, I hit the “share” button to bring you this uplifting video.
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We can make a difference!

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We Can Do It!

Since the latest political shift in our American society, people are taking a stand in unprecedented numbers — this latest wake makes it difficult to remain neutral.

In January 2017, our Capitol’s front steps saw the largest political demonstration in fifty years; a plea for human rights and equality. Our country hadn’t had such a large turnout since the days of the Vietnam War protest, back in the days I was born.

Eleanor Roosevelt had written a daily column for a syndicated newspaper; these ranged from women’s issues to general humanitarian causes. She was not just another First Lady. She was a changemaker.

 

  My great-grandmother penned an  advice column for women, Dear Polly Potter”. xxx

It ran in a  newspaper many years before Dear Abby. She was not just my role model. She made a positive difference in her community.

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Likewise, we needn’t be just another concerned community citizen.

Through our chosen venue, we too can influence others.

As a Creative Nonfiction Writer and Memoirist, I see my passions include equal rights, advocacy for the homeless, and support groups which don’t isolate members. I’ve been adversely subjected to these problems in society, yet overcame them through action. Not many people can say the same, but many people are affected by these concerns….

The neighborhood I work in is in the heart of a big city, saturated with homeless folks. I put this concern in writing and it is now published in the inaugural issue of One Person’s Trash Literary Journal, even without any journalistic experience.

Like Eleanor Roosevelt, I believe I am making a difference, and I see differences all around me, thanks to my writing.

How will you influence change?

What will you do today to make a positive difference?

For a feel-good-story to get us started, check out the link to this photo (click on the photo), below:

Photo from Newsner

We can make a difference in our communities!

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