Educators on Parade

It’s Giving Tuesday, a way to reclaim this season and infuse it with true giving. #GivingTuesday does just that by generating conversations about how you can help, give smarter, and put personal philanthropy back into the giving season. How perfect then, that today’s post comes from Emily Kobza, our Director of Development & Business Engagement.

 

I took my son to his very first Kalamazoo Holiday Parade a few weekends ago.  To be honest, I had never been to this parade before so I wasn’t sure what to expect other than a marching band or two and the giant balloons that had been advertised.  While my expectations for the marching bands and the giant balloons were more than met, I ended up being surprised by something I didn’t expect – local educators on parade.

There were band teachers, scout troop leaders, dance teachers, football and cheerleading coaches, and school bus drivers.  There were color guard coaches, preschool teachers, and gymnastics coaches.  There were advisors of student clubs, choir teachers, and swim club coaches.  And they were all there on a Saturday morning walking with their students, supporting and encouraging them.

In this season where we pause to give thanks and reflect on our blessings, I am very grateful for the many, many men and women in our community who are helping young people to learn and grow every day.  Some of them have chosen this as a profession.  Others are volunteering.  All of them are helping to ensure that our kids can fulfill their promise.  Thank you to all of you.

And to the Kalamazoo Husky Club – I think you were my son’s favorite part of the parade.

thanks carved into table

Count Thanks, Not Sheep

Kids SunsetWhen you find yourself having trouble falling asleep: count thanks. I tried it the other night and it worked. I drifted off somewhere around 124. It probably wasn’t a coincidence that I awakened the next morning feeling exceptionally refreshed and hopeful. In fact, researchers have found a connection between gratitude and a whole bunch of good stuff, like better health, improved relationships, and dealing with adversity. It helps to recognize that goodness is not just in us but all around us.

Two tips to keep in mind should you try this. One. When counting thanks, don’t critique your thoughts. There is no right or wrong, good or bad counting. When ordinary things like cinnamon flavored toothpicks, small brown stones, and dental floss come to mind, don’t shrink from their common-ness; just embrace it. Two. When you hit the 70 mark, don’t give up. This is when things will start to surprise you. People long forgotten may rise to the surface, like the crossing guard you haven’t seen since you were ten, but with a hello, a smile, and a stop sign, saw you safely across the intersection at Inkster and Westnedge.

Here, in no particular order, are just twelve of the things that I counted in my list of thanks:

1. For this moment.

2. For the Kalamazoo Public Schools that open their doors to all of our children. For the teachers, secretaries, janitors, principals, para-pros, administrators and bus drivers who tend our most precious resources: children.

3. Discovering “Starfish.” A poem by Eleanor Lerman, “Starfish” begins:

This is what life does. It lets you walk up to

the store to buy breakfast and the paper, on a

stiff knee. It lets you choose the way you have

your eggs, your coffee….

This poem not only spoke to my cruddy knees, it swept me away with the common voice of gratitude. You can read the whole thing here.

4. For that fourth grader who told me she was most thankful for having shelter.

5. For my cruddy knees that help me move through this world.

6. For the children among us who had no Thanksgiving meal.

7. For the big hearted among us, like TJ Duckett and his New World Flood and all the folks at Hands Up Project, who made lovely meals and memories possible for hundreds of children and their families this Thanksgiving.

8. For the mother who accepted the donated meal with sheer joy.

9. For the mother who accepted the donated meal with downcast eyes.

10. For students like Chris Boes whose steadfast pursuit of education brings to mind the quote, “Adversity does not build character. It reveals it.”

11. For partners like Western Michigan University who surround and celebrate students and make us proud to be a part of this community.

12. For efforts to reclaim this season and infuse it with true giving. #GivingTuesday(which is today!) does just that by generating conversations about ways to give more, give smarter, and put personal philanthropy back into the giving season.

Speaking of #GivingTuesday, Kalamazoo Fifth Third Bank branches celebrated by giving a generous donation of Thanksgiving food baskets, winter coats, clothing, and personal care items for our CIS Site Coordinators to distribute from Kids’ Closet.

Are you giving back in ways that matter to you? Have you taken a moment to support the Promise Me Campaign? Encouraged others to do so? What are you thankful for? Start counting