At the beginning of 2014, my friend and I created gratitude jars. They are basically just apothecary jars we decorated and as thoughts of gratitude occur, we jot them down and place them in our jars. Our objective was to remind us that there is always something to be thankful for. Some days, all I can muster is “I am thankful I made it through this day.” Other days I fill out five slips commenting on the beautiful sunset, a comedic moment at work or an ode to a rainy day.
It is amazing what you find you are thankful for when you consciously count your blessings. It didn’t take long before Generation United, its members and the events started to monopolize my thoughts of thanksgiving. The second Tuesday of January rolled around and I was a volunteer reader at UMOM at our monthly Read to Me event. I came home and filled out three slips that night:
Later that month, we then hosted the Gen U Scavenger Hunt where so many young professionals showed up for an adventurous day of running around downtown. We managed to raise money for United Way, and awareness for Gen U. I saw a mix of fresh faces and several I’ve known for years. Everyone was tasked with the same goal yet each group had a different plan of execution. Of course we all had hilarious stories to share about the day. When I finally got home and wrote down my thoughts of gratitude for the day, one slip of paper just wasn’t enough; I also posted to my Facebook page that I know the best people. It’s true, I’ve met some great friends through Gen U which is a whole different subset of gratitude notes that include memories of hikes, concerts, embodying the general sentiment of: “I am thankful for my friends.”
I left Gen U’s Speaker Series huddle with Calais Campbell even more inspired to be more involved. If I look back on my colorful slips of paper that have marked my days this year, I see messages such as, “I am thankful I have health insurance; a roof over my head; pets in my home; a bed to sleep in.” Those might follow experiences at tough service events like Arizona StandDown or a Project Connect, where you see how homelessness is widespread throughout our community. The more I am moved by an event, the more grateful I am.
I had the unfortunate life experience of losing my father. His death was right before I was going to lead a Gen U School Readiness Kits assembly and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it. I contacted a friend and Steering Committee Chair and he assured me the event would be taken care of and to be with my family. During my time of loss, that time of despair; just knowing people were taking time out of their busy schedules to do good for their community, made my heart a little lighter. When I came back to Phoenix, my volunteer friends sent me the most beautiful flower arrangement – and for that I was oh so grateful.
When I created my gratitude jar back in January, I didn’t foresee Generation United being a reoccurring resource for gratitude. That is best part about this whole thing – Gen U has always been that, I just didn’t realize it until I began writing everything down.
Since 2010, I have been a part of this great organization and I am grateful for every event I attended, every friend I made, and everything I have learned about my community and how we’re making our community stronger. Just as I notice Generation United shaping the contents of my gratitude jar, I see how its members and events are shaping the memories of my life. My gratitude knows no bounds.