I recently dusted off an old companion article from the Journal of Psychological Inquiry titled “Savoring Life, Past and Present” that suggests success finds those with cognitive habits well-attuned to, at least three, patterns of gratitude.
Particularly in this holiday season, I’m thinking about the gratitude I feel for those supporters of Kenosha County Food Bank (KCFB) because, frankly, we’re all engaged in a struggle against status-quo forces that are contented with “business-as-usual” and blinded to a changing and opportune environment.
Pattern 1: Goal Setting and Visioning
The article explores the space of goal orientation: In 2022, Kenosha County Food Bank has goals of operating a warehouse facility to distribute emergency food products to a network of food pantries that reach an average of 2,000 households monthly. That’s roughly 1 in 10 Kenosha County adults (and 1 in 5 youth) deemed food insecure.
From the article, I have learned people who appraise goals — even very arduous ones — as challenges that are accompanied by optimism, versus unpleasant direness are ultimately far more successful in those pursuits. Launching and growing the nonprofit enterprise of KCFB, with a committed core of volunteers in March of 2020, is nothing if not an arduous goal. As a board member, KCFB keeps me up most nights and challenges me to push myself in unknown directions most days but I have personally seen gratitude is my guide day-by-day.
The author writes that grateful people may be particularly attentive to the fact that the very pursuit of goals in itself brings meaning and purpose to their lives. I am grateful for the strength to keep giving of myself.
Pattern 2: Being a Beneficiary
In the same way, the article leans into the cognitive-affective response to the recognition that one has been the beneficiary of someone else’s goodwill. In this way, I bow down to the selfless contributions of others who are on this board of directors—twelve (and growing) other community leaders that are aligned to achieve a shared vision.
Our board makes me a beneficiary of expertise that I can barely describe. Here is a heartfelt “thank you” to (in no particular order) Tina, Teri, Dan, Cameron, Scott, Magan, Fabiola, Patrick, Matt, Tanya, Sandi, Carolynn, co-conspirator Sharon, friends Tamarra and Denise, and supercharged volunteers Natalie, Karen and Adam (and while I’m at it, my husband Ben and mentor M.J.) for making me a beneficiary and joining me in this wild dream.
Pattern 3: Connectedness
Finally, connectedness to others and community is, as the article describes, important because it points to the ability of grateful people to pay attention to the ways in which their lives are connected to other events and activities occurring in the social, natural and (for some people) supernatural world. What matters to me is that our sense of community can wholly be enhanced when we see our basic connection to others.
And besides, sharing, preparing and enjoying food is so foundational to the human experience so it is a great honor that I can be engaged in an anti-hunger, anti-poverty cause to restore a sense of human dignity to those struggling to secure their basic needs. It is really powerful work that KCFB is up to, and I’m profoundly hopeful that Kenosha County is ready for this project to scale.
Putting It All Together
This really is a healthy reminder about gratitude and giving that we can all use at a time like today. I just want to send KCFB into its next stages of growth now that we have, gratefully, laid so much groundwork. And perhaps you can help. Kenosha County corporate and organizational leaders can do so much to draw wind to our sails. Provide us assistance by joining our committed board of directors, contribute financially to enable the hire of an Executive Director and/or consider us as you look to donate pallet-sized, nutritional food products.
It is my firm belief that Kenosha County, so rich with food resources and logistical know-how, can improve upon its status-quo approach to food security—our local families deserve that. Let us look to the future… graciously that is.
Check us out on www.kenoshacountyfoodbank.org for more information and to get engaged.
Written by Amy Greil, Community Development Educator and Faculty Member, UW-Extension