Mark Hassemer

Dear Friends of ACT:

It was Monday morning after Thanksgiving. Into my office came Minna, who to my surprise was bearing a gift for me: a box of sweets she helped make over the Thanksgiving holiday. Believe me, they are great. But not as great as the feelings of delight we both experienced.

She was thrilled about sharing what she’d made. And it was clear she’d had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving.

The simple act of making food and offering it to another is universally known as an act of hospitality, care, and generosity. Receiving a gift like this feels great, too. For me and those around me who work so closely with the individuals we support at ACT, those good feelings are heightened when we consider that the giver has little or no financial resources and in some cases no family whatsoever. Her generosity springs from a place I can barely imagine and have never experienced.

What a way to observe Thanksgiving! Just to step back and acknowledge and be grateful that we have so much. Minna did it, even though she (seemingly) has so little. It reminds me of the rather striking title to a book by William Lynn Smith, We Didn’t Know We Were Poor Until Someone Told Us.

Counting your blessings and sharing generously are strong themes you hear about during the holidays. So too is anticipation, looking forward to something you know is going to be wonderful.

To be honest, while I was surprised by the sweets I’m nibbling on now (and will share with others), I was not surprised that Minna’s Thanksgiving was a joyful time of special memories and closeness with those around her.

Before Thanksgiving, one of our managers, Vicki, dropped by to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving. I asked her if she had any special plans. “Work,” she said. I’ll admit, I added the tone of dread to our conversation. But she said, rather emphatically, no! She was looking forward to spending time with a couple of ladies in one of our Community Living houses. They were going to celebrate. They were going to share. They were going to create a special and memorable time. She was anticipating it.

What a treat it is for me to work every day with selfless people who forego holiday gatherings with their own families and with a sense of anticipation and warmth create a special holiday time with one of the more than 50 persons we support in Community Living homes, many of whom lack any family involvement.

I hope each of you has a wonderful holiday time, full of generosity, anticipation, and cherished closeness with family and friends. I join our Board of Directors and staff in wishing you a very happy holiday season.

Until next month,

Mark