As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday this season, and we prepare to give thanks for all our blessings, we need to share what little we have with others who have even less. I met my husband feeding the homeless on Christmas day [he and I were volunteers], and today our 16-year-old participated in a school program to deliver turkeys to the less fortunate. I was so proud. She got involved in this program on her own and totally without our coaxing. Whatever her impetus, I’m just glad that she did it, because it reflects an awareness of how lucky we are to have food on the table and a roof over our heads.
Everything I read suggests that our economy has “turned the corner” and is on the upswing. While the economists keep repeating that “mantra,” I haven’t seen much of that in my daily life. In fact, every week I come across another congregant whose son or daughter graduated a year ago from college and can’t get an interview, much less a position. I have friends who have been laid off, and no matter how many leads I pass on to them, they can’t land an interview. I myself just got off the unemployment rolls, and it was a harrowing journey, to say the least. But we are the lucky ones. We made it a solid year on my unemployment combined with my husband’s income and didn’t lose our home or life savings. How we managed is very basic. We’ve always lived on one income and used the second income to build our retirement, children’s college funds, nest egg and purchase little extras like bar and bat mitzvah gatherings. Had we purchased a home that was reliant on my income, I can honestly say we would have run through a substantial portion of our life’s savings and found ourselves in a very bad financial position, not dissimilar to many thousands of Americans who have lost their homes and everything they’ve worked for.
I am incredibly thankful that I was able to get off the unemployment rolls without losing everything. To me, it’s my family’s 2010 Thanksgiving miracle, but it’s also my stubborness and a desire to never give up. I can honestly say that I went to every single free employment training program that was available in my area, joined a career coach’s MeetUp group, went back to college to train as a life and executive coach, and kept searching, networking and applying. Stick-to-it-ness got me through. It’s hard to “keep at it,” but it’s an absolute necessity, at least it was for me. I was not ready to retire at 49. I have a good 20 years of workforce life in me before I retire.
So before you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal tomorrow afternoon or evening to give thanks, swing by your local food bank and make a donation. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Just one or two cans of food can make a world of difference, especially if everyone swings by and donates a little something. A little something is all it takes to change the world, so let’s do it together.