Presidents Message-December 2011
Welcome to December’s holiday edition of the MHS Voice. It was a year ago this month that we launched our first edition. Over this past year, I’ve had the pleasure of hearing from many readers. I truly value your thoughts and encouragement as we’ve endeavored to convey our passion and commitment to those we serve and how proud we are of the work we do.
The holiday season often lends itself to reflecting on what we value. It’s a time when most of us think about those who are near and dear to us; a time for family—whether the family we were born into or the one we created for ourselves. It’s a time when we reach out and join together to celebrate our holiday traditions.
These holiday traditions are plentiful! When I worked at one of our mental health programs, we created our very own traditions. Our festivities embraced all the holidays of the season, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Each year we had a wonderful feast! Clients, staff, and families all came together to celebrate. One of our staff members, Gerry, worked all year long each year knitting socks and mittens for our clients. The Salvation Army donated gifts for us to give to them, as well. It was a festive gathering. We ate, played games, and handed out gifts. Then our final tradition included joining together to sing John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”. As one perfectly untrained voice, we joined together to belt out the song. I’ll always feel warmth in my heart as I look back fondly on those days.
This year as we celebrate, hopefully we will remember the timeless tradition of giving of ourselves and our resources to help those in need. Few holiday activities are better for granting perspective, feeding our hearts, and inspiring gratitude. Opportunities for giving abound: we can donate food to the food bank, serve at a soup kitchen, contribute a toy to Toys for Tots—there are so many ways we can make a difference in someone’s life. In our first issue a year ago, I shared the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve…You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” These words are worth repeating as a reminder that no acts of service are inconsequential.
Holiday activity is meant to inspire warmth and good cheer. So please take care of yourself! The season is about togetherness rather than piles of “perfect” gifts, about “affection rather than perfection,” and caring rather than consumerism. Try to avoid putting too much on your plate or having too many expectations of yourself. In the midst of the flurry of activities, find time to relax and enjoy the season. Spend your precious time and energy on relishing those traditions that are truly important and meaningful to you, and allow yourself the freedom to forgo those that are not. (Most of us have some self-imposed holiday obligations that we can let go.)
In closing, I want to take this opportunity to once again thank all of our partners and supporters who join us in the important work of improving lives. However you’ve supported us, with a donation, a kind word or an act of volunteerism, you are forever part of the MHS family; you have shown your “heart full of grace.”
Wishing you the happiest of holidays!
We don’t walk behind you or ahead of you – we walk beside you.