Thanksgiving for manifold blessings abounds

If you have family and friends, food and shelter, you're wealthy beyond all bounds

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Thanksgiving means many things to many people. Usually it involves gathering the family together to have a lovely meal and enjoy each other's company. But underneath the lights, the laughter and the second piece of pumpkin pie there's the introspection and gratitude for our lives. Our real riches simply stagger the imagination: life, freedom, the ability to love, and the privilege of being loved.

Mike Johnson, executive director of the Center at the Park said, "I am thankful for the fullness of family and grandchildren whom I can spoil with my love. In these tough economic times, I am grateful for a job, a roof over my head, for food on the table, for heat in the house and loved ones with whom I can share my simple abundance."

"What comes to mind right away," said Karen Wolf, executive director of CampFire, "is how incredibly thankful we are for this community, people who care outside their family, care for all kids. The percentage of needy kids is growing. I'm in the perfect place to appreciate, I'm surrounded everyday by staff who love what they do." Wolf is thankful for all the organizations and individuals who have contributed to CampFire so it could help the children in need.

"I am thankful for our founding rights--the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, and for the Declaration of Independence," said Suzie Aldrich, 55 Plus contributor, former mountaineer and volunteer. "I am also thankful to all the men and women who have fought over the decades for our freedom and currently to those who protect us from harm." In addition to being thankful for freedom, she also said she's thankful for family and friends. "We have so much," she said.

In difficult times, thankfulness is even more important. "I'm thankful that I have a job and friends," said Audrey Renaud, Adult Day Center program manager. "And I'm thankful for my wonderful dog I'm thankful that my family has been so supportive of each other through my mom's passing this year."

"Even though this is a year of bad news about state budget cuts, in a year where we see more and more needy people, I am still thankful I live in a state that is so progressive about the way we care for our elders and disabled populations," said Mary Cleveland, local program coordinator, Southeastern Washington Aging and Long Term Care. "We still have programs that we can offer to people that will help them stay in their homes. We have wonderful partners in the community that are willing to collaborate to stretch our resources further. We have great family caregivers that work so hard, with so little reward or relief, but so much love. I have a fantastic staff that no matter what gets thrown at them, figure out how to keep serving our clients, and how to help our clients use the resources we still have wisely and well. And I am thankful our agency is still here, and still able to be a resource to our community. So yes, I have much to be thankful for this year."

Lorrie Toye said, "With Veteran's Day fresh on my mind - I am thankful that my husband, Cal, returned from Vietnam unharmed in 1966. Looking at our world around us, Cal and I are thankful for our families, food, jobs, home, health and our many freedoms, including, religion. Other nations are not so fortunate."

Take some time and really let yourself become aware of all the things you are thankful for in your life. Thank you to all those who have contributed to 55 Plus this year and the years before. Have a wonderful, joyous holiday season.

Karlene Ponti can be reached by calling 509-526-8324 or by e-mail at karleneponti@wwub.com.

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