Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Some Thoughts on Gratitude

Thankfulness, thanks, appreciation, recognition, acknowledgment, credit - that's the definition of gratitude according to the dictionary.  

Thanksgiving is a great annual reminder to be grateful for the good things in our lives -- family, friends, home, work. It's also a good time to remember the many nonprofit organizations that have touched our lives and made this world a better place.

Here is my top ten list of nonprofits I plan to recognize, acknowledge, thank, and support this season:
  • Planned Parenthood: Planned Parenthood has been providing affordable accessible health services for all women since 1916. Supporting them is one small way to make an important personal and moral statement in today's political climate.
  • Soccer Without Borders: I play in a weekly pick-up soccer game. I know how this beautiful game builds confidence, skills, friendship, and community. This nonprofit uses soccer as a safe haven and a vehicle for positive change worldwide, from Oakland to Uganda.
  • West Marin Community Land Trust (CLAM): In rural West Marin where I live, CLAM provides desperately needed affordable housing for people who are raising their children and work here.
  • Tomales Bay Library Association: When I was a kid, I walked to my local library every Saturday to browse, read, and take out books. As an adult, I still do. I believe that free public libraries are the foundation of community and democracy.
  • Point Reyes National Seashore Association: I'm blessed to live right next to amazing forests and beaches and meadows; our national parks preserve these beautiful wild places that touch our souls.
  • West Marin Community Services: You may have passed through Point Reyes or Inverness and just thought of these small unincorporated villages as charming tourist destinations, but real people with real needs live here. This organization provides a food bank, emergency services, holiday assistance, and much more.
  • Oregon Shakespeare Festival: I am grateful not just for nonprofits that feed people but also those that feed our souls with creative, imaginative, eye-opening art that is moving and thought-provoking.
  • J Street Education Fund: J Street is a pro-Israel, pro-peace organization that advocates for an equitable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Despite all odds, I hope to see this dream realized in my lifetime.
  • HIAS: Originally formed to help protect Jews during the 1930's, this agency now helps all of those whose lives are in danger for being who they are - and stands for a world in which refugees find welcome, safety, and freedom.
  • The Dance Palace Community Center: The list wouldn't be complete without this nonprofit I founded and ran for 37 years. At its heart, it's about building and sustaining community through recreational, cultural, and social services for people of all ages -- and I'm proud that it continues to do so.
Take a moment to think about those nonprofit organizations that matter to you. And then take a moment to make a contribution so their work can continue. Like me, you'll be glad you did.