Notes from the Director

November 2011

“Gratitude is the memory of the heart” – Jean Baptiste Massieu

I received a welcome surprise today: a family we had helped over 4 years ago found us on Facebook and sent their greetings. Rachel wrote thank you for all Family Promise did for them and how it was much appreciated. It is always good to hear from past families and find out they are doing well, and appreciate the help they received at a tough time in their life.

There was a summer a few years back that I really wrestled with the notion of gratitude. The families we were helping that summer had many obstacles to overcome and seemed totally ungrateful for any assistance we offered. I spent a whole summer trying to help people be grateful when it was obvious they felt anything but. How do you instill a grateful heart? I put up a whiteboard and we took turns writing down what we were thankful for – sunshine, friends, and a bed – everything counted. I finally realized it is hard to feel gratitude if your own needs have not been met or if you have never really been loved. Just like a parent’s needs have to be met before they can meet their child’s needs, a person has to experience love before they can love.

I looked up gratitude in the dictionary and it said “deep thankfulness.” If people’s lives are unsteady, on the edge and worrying about toppling over, no wonder they can’t focus on being thankful, much less deeply thankful. Perhaps as staff and volunteers, we need to concentrate on meeting those basic needs, loving even when people aren’t always so lovable, and not thinking so much about gratitude. Something tells me it will come back around when we least expect it. After all, it is the memory of the heart.

Gloria Edwards