As we head into the Thanksgiving weekend, I am reminded of the importance of the consistent and sincere practice of gratitude – a practice that I will admit that I am guilty of abandoning when things get tough.
The last eight months have been tough for many people in our community. The pandemic has affected us all, but for those experiencing homelessness, financial difficulties, and food insecurities, it has caused an extra strain on an already difficult situation. It has exposed deep-rooted issues in our community for those most vulnerable like kids, seniors, people with disabilities, and those with precarious employment. It has also highlighted the necessity for mental health services for so many people in Northumberland County.
So with all of this need that exists, I am struggling with my growing concern for people who are going without having their basic needs met, and the gratitude I feel for the generosity of so many people in our community who want nothing more than to take care of one another.
Although many spiritual advisors and self-help gurus teach gratitude as the key to more abundance,, it will not put food on the table of those who have none, or provide comfort to someone who is struggling with mental health issues. It does not give company to an isolated senior, or take away the pain of someone who is wrestling with the demons of addiction. Gratitude alone does not make a community great for everyone.
One thing this pandemic has taught us is that there are great leaders among us. We often quote leaders of the past because history is a good teacher; however, within the slowness and quiet of quarantine and physical distancing, a collective awakening has begun. Important conversations are taking place across the globe and we are becoming more aware of the power of community and the importance of what Dr. Brene Brown calls, “holding two truths at once.”
It is true that people are struggling. It is also true that there is beauty all around us in random acts of kindness and the generosity of our neighbours. We have seen many people reach out to support their neighbours by delivering food and supplies. Our community partners have responded by providing emergency shelter, food, and crisis counselling to those in need. There have been countless phone calls to isolated individuals and many food hampers delivered, and there is hope and support hidden in the ever so common question “how are you doing?”
This Thanksgiving weekend I will hold two truths at once. I will remember that there are many people in our community who still need our help, and I will also remember to be sincerely grateful for those who want to ensure that no one is left behind.
From all of us at Northumberland United Way, we are wishing you and your loved ones a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.
Executive Director, Northumberland United Way