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I woke up at 3:30 AM today as I have been doing most days the past few weeks, feeling grateful and excited to get on with the day. (I would have preferred to sleep later!)
This particular morning, the day before Thanksgiving, I started thinking about how my heart overflows with gratitude for the fact that I get to do this job called Imagine, and that I get to work with our stellar staff, board, volunteers, donors, and participants. My job is fulfilling, never boring, sometimes stressful, and stretches me almost daily outside of my comfort zone. I’ve been working for over 20 years now in the field of children’s grief support, starting out as a volunteer facilitator, and then board member for the NJ Chapter of Rainbows. Before I knew it I was Executive Director of the NJ Chapter whose office we immediately relocated from a dorm room at Felician College in Rutherford (yes, the walls vibrated with the music of the students!) to a sweet office in Summit. I began to keep a daily gratitude journal, giving thanks for donations, volunteers, my staff, and other supporters.
(the Lori Pine mentioned was my weekly therapist up the street from our office! Needless to say she kept me sane and grounded. The Brian mentioned was my Administrative Assistant at Rainbows, and Alice and Jill were incredible staff at Rainbows.)
This is what I would write in my Gratitude Journal today, November 27, 2019:
Thank you for…
Mandi, Connie, Veronica, Val, Rich, Abigail, Maria, Jacelyn and Jamie
For being able to work with Kathy for three years
For every single board member
For every single Founding Board Member who believed in Imagine before it existed
For Gerry Glasser and his foundation
For every single Volunteer Facilitator and Night of Support setter-upper, cleaner-upper, and hospitality greeters
For our Teen Facilitators!
For every single office volunteer who came in and helped us get out an over 1000 letters for our end of year mailing this past week
For our incredible and beautiful center and everyone who helped make it that way from those who donated furniture, to Amy Yin who picked out our beautiful colors and arranged all the furniture, to the incredible artists who have adorned our walls with the most beautiful murals
For those who have named rooms at our center after people in their lives who have died and who were so loved
For Marilyn Stiglitz
For Amy Yin
For Scott West
For The JustinTime Foundation
For our Table Captains
For our committee volunteers
For every single one of our Circle of Hope member
For every single Foundation and business that supports us.
For Jeffery Sobel Consulting and YPTC and Sobel & Co.
For every single opportunity to deliver training and education in the community at schools, agencies, workplaces, and associations
For my friends who tolerate limited time together because “I have to work.”
For the extraordinary families who come to Imagine, trusting us with their children and their stories during one of the most painful and difficult times in their lives. You inspire me every day, how you get up and simply carry on. You are resilient and awesome.
For my boyfriend Mike who supports me in every aspect of Imagine both as a generous donor, a listening ear, a schlepper of stuff, a vote-getter, and an Ambassador
For my brother Jim who lets me continue to tell his story of struggle since our dad’s death in 1974. He raised four children on his own and is the hardest working, kindest, most service-oriented person I know. He was a great big brother, and I wish I could take away his demons and unresolved grief.
And as I learned from Stephen Colbert, I am grateful for this gift of grief and loss in my life, for what it has taught me and how it has given me this fulfilling career. I would take back my dad in a second, in a second, but am grateful that in place of that, I get to do this.
And lastly, lastly, I am grateful I had the best dad for 14 years of my life. I wouldn’t have missed him for the world.
Mary Robinson, MA, CT
Founder and Executive Director, Imagine
P.s. and of course please vote here for the the CNN Hero of the Year!