Gratitude, Thankfulness and Zombie Turkeys

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I ‘m usually gearing up for time with family, getting ready to take my culinary skills up a notch and excited for the official start of the holiday season. Because of COVID-19, things will obviously look different this year. There is a part of me that expects zombie turkeys to be a thing, but I suppose I shouldn’t give 2020 any ideas.

In all seriousness, this year has been unlike anything I have ever lived through. I started the year thinking 2020 would be a clean slate – a new decade to make some changes and think about where I want to be in life. 2020 has actually done just that, but in completely different ways than I expected. It has allowed all of us to step back, take a breather from the nonstop running around and truly appreciate what matters – health, safety and happiness (and yoga pants). I never thought working from home would be something I would be interested in, but I have grown to love the time I’m spending in my 1916 charming, yet drafty, fixer upper.

While 2020 has been all things COVID, at the Miller-Dwan Foundation it has been business as usual, with a twist. Kids need mental health care now more than ever and Amberwing has been as busy as its ever been. (check out these DBT skills videos!) End of life compassionate care is continually being provided at Solvay, Polinsky continues to help patients move forward (meet Zeek here), and the Superior PHP is helping adults focus on their mental health needs in a partial hospitalization setting. We’ve been busy at the Miller-Dwan Foundation and fortunately, have been able to pivot to work remotely. While it is strange, we are thankful. Don’t get me wrong, we cannot wait for the days when we can gather again – ARTcetera, donor events, lunches, etc. but in the meantime, we are still here and still supporting the health of our region.

I asked each of my amazing coworkers to tell me a little bit about what has helped them get through the year, what they are thankful and grateful for, and I wanted to share that with you here:

Traci Marciniak, President
People who know me know that I’m old-fashioned in that I prefer personal, face-to-face interactions with others versus using technology to communicate. This year has forced me to transition to virtual conversations and meetings. Honestly, I’m thankful for the technology that allows that to happen. The ability to see and talk to people has been critical to our organization’s efforts – and, personally, my well-being. Not to mention, the joy I experience when I see someone’s dog or cat crash the Zoom meeting!

Joan Oswald, Major Gifts and Grants Specialist
That I am grateful for my family and my friends almost goes without saying. They’ve been a constant in my life – always there for me, good or bad. But what really stands out for me this year, is my co-workers. It can be hard to find a fun, compassionate and inclusive team that consistently delivers on those promises we’ve made to our community. So, to Traci, Kerry, Kathy, Doreen and Lori – thank you.

Kerry Jo Johnson, Foundation Marketing Specialist
While 2020 has been a real bummer, I have maintained my mental health by being outside, surrounded by trees and water, as much as humanly possible. In addition, I am grateful for technology in order to keep in touch with those who I’m not able to see and hug. Finally, I am beyond thankful for my job and the health of my family, friends and coworkers.

Doreen Studier, Accountant
I’m thankful for my loving family and friends.  All have been healthy also.  I’m thankful for my job and all my co-workers

Kathy Makkyla, Development Associate
As Thanksgiving draws near, I find myself thinking about all the things that I am truly grateful for. 2020 has been a year for the books in many regards, but there were countless highlights that rose above the chaos: The gift of TIME, healthy family members, lifelong friendships, the BEST co-workers, and seeing the endless beauty that surrounds us in this part of the world. This year has allowed me to slow down a bit, have more flexibility allowing for a work-life balance, spend more quality time with immediate family members, and explore parts of the Duluth area that I had never seen before. These are all things I do not take for granted and will forever be grateful for. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Lori Thrun, Behavioral Health Program Manager at Amberwing
On this Thanksgiving, I am infinitely grateful for the good health of my family and friends. I continue to be thankful daily that I can work and I can support our community’s hurting children and families.  God has blessed me with all that I need to live a beautiful life and I am grateful for each day I awake.  May this holiday provide us all with moments of gratitude and hope.

Lou Ann, Chief Happiness Specialist
I don’t have much concept for time, but I do know that I miss seeing all of you as I would walk through the Miller-Dwan Building! I’m still practicing being a good girl, and it’s almost my birthday (Dec 1). I am not sure what the future holds, but I do know that I love that my human best friend is working from home these days. And when I join the Zoom calls, I get quite a bit of attention. Not the belly scratches that I know and miss from all of you, but still second best.

So, with that, we say Happy Thanksgiving. We are grateful to each and every one of you, and we wish you as safe and healthy holiday season.

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