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Much to be grateful for

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The adversity we face today shines a spotlight on all the reasons we have to be grateful.

''Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude." -- A.A. Milne.

As the dad of four young children, a significant amount of my leisure reading comes in the form of children's books these days. Ok, being honest, ALL of my leisure reading has pictures and large font these days. More often than not, I am struck by the profound life lessons these simple texts deliver: Be kind. Look before you leap. Count your blessings. Dream big. Mind your manners.

The other night as I read the reflection above from the noted poet and philosopher Piglet, it called to mind how I, and others at Catholic Charities, have been feeling over the past many months and, in particular, following our Giving Week campaign that led up to Thanksgiving.

In normal times, Catholic Charities' team of 400-plus employees has an up-close view of the despair and hardship that exists in our communities. It can be hard and unrelenting work, encountering people as they suffer through a personal crisis and helping them navigate their way. These aren't normal times. Since March, as the fallout from the COVID-19 health crisis has expanded and enveloped even more local families, this work has become significantly more challenging.

Our up-close view of the despair and hardship in our communities also affords us a unique vantage point to witness the care, concern, and generosity that threads through our communities. There is the story of Eddie, a young boy from Dorchester who was so upset by the thought of others around him being hungry that he, on his own, set up a food drive across multiple locations in his neighborhood. Over several weeks he gathered hundreds of pounds of food that he delivered to our Yawkey Center food pantry. There is the story of the anonymous donor who couldn't bear the idea of children not having enough to eat in his beloved USA. He called us out of the blue to say he wished to donate $50,000 to be used to match all donations made in support of our food pantries. There is the story of the B.C. football team and St. Sebastian's School student body who responded to an urgent call for volunteers to assemble thousands of bags of Thanksgiving dinner fixings for our annual Thanksgiving turkey dinner distribution. These are just a few examples of the acts of kindness we see every day.

It was not a revelation to our friend Piglet that he had the capacity for gratitude or that he had much to be thankful for. Rather, he found himself in a moment that revealed his vast capacity for gratitude. At Catholic Charities we find ourselves in a similar moment. The adversity we face today shines a spotlight on all the reasons we have to be grateful.

Our teams continue to find efficient and creative ways to expand and enhance services -- that's our mission -- but we couldn't do this work alone. And, thanks to the boundless generosity of so many community members, we don't have to. On behalf of my 400-plus teammates and those we serve, it is truly my honor and privilege to use this space in The Pilot to say a most heartfelt and genuine "Thank You" to all who have supported our work and continue to support our work in a multitude of ways.

Best wishes to everyone for a merry Christmas!

PATRICK HEWETT IS VICE PRESIDENT FOR ADVANCEMENT OF CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON.



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