This holiday season, I traveled with my husband, Mike, to St. Louis for a family visit. It was wonderful to visit with my brothers, nieces and nephew. It was the first time all of us have been together since pre-Covid, and it was a true gift to spend a joyous Christmas surrounded by the people who keep me grounded and rooted in what matters: those precious family values of kindness, responsibility, respect, and honesty--plus fun!
Being reunited with family, and having those values at the forefront, was a reminder that these are the principles that extend beyond families to entire communities. Taking care of one another, listening to each other’s ideas, and championing each other’s dreams are all simple but meaningful actions that come naturally for many families and can be put into practice with our neighbors as well. That is one of the goals of Season of Sharing, and perhaps a primary reason I am so deeply heartened by the outpouring of support this generous community has shown year after year. (Matching gifts from The Patterson Foundation continues through January 31, providing an opportunity to start the year with an act of goodwill).
Of course, spending time with my siblings – and our spouses and the younger generation of nieces and nephew – does bring up differences. While we share so much history, we each see the world in unique ways. Since we left our parents’ home decades ago, we’ve embarked on different journeys, taken different paths, followed different passions. Conversations with them highlight our distinct perspectives. Like all siblings and families, we don’t always agree. But we don’t need to agree with one another to support each other, and that is an ideal that extends beyond kin. I always bring home with me an idea that had not previously occurred to me, a viewpoint that I hadn’t considered, and these are gifts that I treasure long after the holidays end.
I will hold onto the memories of this cherished time with family into the new year, which is a time to reset and recalibrate. As a symbol, the new year gives us the chance to strengthen unifying bonds and address those areas that need rebuilding. Here on the Suncoast, that means the continued effort to recover from Hurricane Ian, not just fixing buildings and roads, but tending to our community’s systems and spirit. We’ll have updates on our Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund throughout the year, which you can keep up with, as well as learn about our guiding principles, here.
I hope 2023 brings opportunities for all of us to treasure those people that mean the most to us—our families and loved ones—as well as the values of caring for each other that unite us. For me, these principles are the guiding light of community foundations, which are entrusted with upholding values that give everyone the opportunity to thrive, to be heard, to feel supported.
Family doesn’t walk away when the headlines change—it sticks with you in lean times as well as times of good fortune. And that is our goal with our Community Foundation—that we will be a partner to each of our neighbors in their pursuit of a healthy and vibrant new year.
I want to know - what are you committed to in 2023?