Gratitude Unexpectedly, Perfectly, On Time

Categories: CEO Message,

Dear Friends:

Sitting in my home office this summer on what had become a typical pandemic day, the mail had an unexpected large manila envelope that intrigued me on that hot, hazy afternoon. My lifelong friend, Dr. Nancy Baker (who had been my neighbor many years ago in Columbia, Missouri) revived long-lost memories by sharing an aged newspaper article about my family shortly after we had moved to the area when I was in fifth grade. She had been going through her dad’s papers and discovered it. I couldn’t resist sharing the photograph with my siblings, which ignited a string of texts that went on for days, mostly lampooning the clothes we had on. Look no further than those knee socks!


Revisiting those joyful memories all these decades later with my beloved two brothers and sister, I was struck once again just how far a simple gesture of thoughtfulness and kindness really goes, especially when it is least expected. During the last several months, we all have felt the personal longing for these moments that bring us closer together. Through the confines of our mailboxes and computers, we all have found renewed appreciation for the everyday exchanges and relationships that add such richness to our lives and reimagined ways to keep these connections vibrant.

As I thought about what to share with you this month, I kept returning to that envelope and the precious feeling of gratitude it evoked. I hope during this year you too have found time to consider what has filled your heart with joy and thankfulness during these unusual times. For me, 2020 has reaffirmed my gratitude for these four very important things:

  • Family. Many of you are familiar with my husband, Mike, who has been by my side for nearly 44 years. While it won’t come as a surprise that I am thankful for him beyond measure, that appreciation has only grown since the “stay at home” orders upended our daily routine. In March, he generously moved his personal office – which he so values as a retiree – to the kitchen table so I could feel more comfortable working from home four days a week in our dedicated home office. How many of us have been moved to make similar compromises for the ones we love? And the popup stand for my laptop he helped install – a godsend for my neck, trust me!
  • Technology. While not a techie, I have sharpened my digital skills in recent months. I love logging on to family gatherings from the comfort of my living room, catching up with my three brothers and sisters spread throughout the country, not to mention nieces and nephews. We look forward to our lighthearted family bantering and checking in on each other, although it took a few test runs using Facebook Live and Zoom to get everyone up to speed. Longtime friends have reached out as well, filling my calendar with Zoom wine dates, plenty of laughter, and good times.
  • Activity. I have logged more miles on my bike than any other year. I am grateful to have a sport I can continue to enjoy safely throughout COVID 19 and one that allows me to be outside and clear my mind. Truly a bright spot of what we are going through now for our physical – and mental – health and wellbeing.
  • Community. From the collective generosity seen through Season of Sharing and the 2020 Giving Challenge to the resiliency demonstrated by our nonprofit partners, my heart has been overflowing with gratitude for this remarkable community that cares so deeply about its fellow neighbors. And of course, all this effort wouldn’t be possible without our terrific board and staff at the Community Foundation, who have steadfastly been strategic, supportive, and caring as we transitioned to remote – at first thinking it was for 2 weeks – to now several months.

Just as relationships that endure the test of time are so precious, so too are the unexpected moments of gratitude they inspire days, months, even years after their initial spark. Like the letter I received from Dr. Baker, the string of family texts, or the familiar ring of a Zoom call, simple gestures of thankfulness have sustained our hope and optimism in the face of such unknowns, and I have no doubt they’ll continue to replenish our spirits in the months ahead. Whether you prefer licking stamps or clicking a send button, there is no better time than now to forward a message of gratitude to those you care about and let them know they are thought of, perhaps even wearing knee socks. The response you get might surprise and delight you.

As always, I want to hear from you. What unexpected moments of gratitude have moved you these last few months? I welcome you to share any thoughts or feelings in a personal message. Let me know. We’re listening.


About Author

Roxie Jerde

President and CEO