A Time for Gratitude and a Time to Act

With the country feeling deeply divided post-election, many of us are struggling to make sense of who we are as a country. I have heard from optimistic, hard-working, and committed Jumpstart staff from across the country who are seeking ways to support Corps members and the children and families we serve, many of whom are scared and confused. These are trying times.

The day after the election, I was searching for words to reassure my own children that our country will once again return to a place of civil discourse. That we will heal. That since our country is founded on a vision of a “more perfect union,” we will find a path forward together. But I came up short.

Then I read my 16-year-old daughter’s Facebook post. Here are a few of her wise and hopeful words:

This is an opportunity for me to act…I will make my voice heard. I will do everything in my power to close the divide that has split our country. I may be young, I may not be able to vote, but my voice is no less significant…This is not the time for complacency. This is the time to act. I’m ready for the challenge. Bring it on…

It was then that I realized that she didn’t need the reassurance. I did.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I reflect on all that I have to be grateful for. In addition to being enormously proud of my children and grateful for all that they teach me, I am so appreciative of the Jumpstart team who continue to astonish me with their spirit, dedication, and kindness.

Right now, perhaps the greatest privilege I – and all of us who do mission-driven work – have is that I go to work every day at a job that I love, with people whom I admire, doing work that has a measurable impact on thousands of children and volunteers in communities across the country that are often overlooked. I feel the weight of the responsibility of this work because I know that it is more important than ever.

While I am fully conscious of that responsibility, I am also grateful for our democracy. Our organization closed on Election Day in order to ensure that all of our staff had the opportunity to exercise their right to vote. I took my 16-year-old with me to the polls so that she could anticipate a time in the not-too-distant future when she too will be able to make her voice heard by voting. But in the meantime, I have confidence that she will be speaking out in other ways for the social justice issues that are important to her.

My family’s Thanksgiving promises to be a special one as all three of our children will be home and my own mom will be with us as well. I hope that you, too, will find yourself among friends and family this holiday, and will join me in committing to finding ways – both big and small – to help lift up the voices of others who may not have the opportunity to be heard.

Together, we can help all children build the key language and literacy skills they need to take on the world.

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