Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Contemplation

As you take time over the next few days and weeks to enjoy your family and friends, please remember that the holidays are not joyous times for many in our community. There are people - perhaps yourself, your friends, neighbors, co-workers, or members of your congregation - that are struggling. Bereavement, financial woes, health concerns, and relationship issues are some of the things that can conspire to rob us of our joy at this (or any) time of the year.

An attitude of gratitude doesn't just happen. When we are intentional in developing it, an amazing thing happens. Joy returns to our lives. When we take the time to reach out and help others - whether it's with our time, talents or money - our own lives are enriched.

I am truly thankful for the opportunity to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse through CourtWatch. And I am thankful for those of you who have supported our efforts with your time, expertise, and financial support.

I received this email from a victim of domestic violence who had a hearing this week after I told her CourtWatch would be attending:

Thank you so much, you know very well what your support means to me. Please help me to pray for the best.
Yesterday I stopped by Harbor House's office before leaving the courthouse to go about the many errands that needed to be done in order to prepare for our family's Thanksgivinig feast. As I was wishing the staff and volunteers a Happy Thanksgiving, I noticed a solitary woman, perhaps 40 years old, sitting quietly alone in the waiting room. One eye was swollen shut from an obvious beating she had recently received.

I assume she was waiting to find out if the judge was going to grant her request for a hearing and provide a temporary injunction.

As I walked to my car, thinking of her plight, I wished I had thought to invite her to our family's dinner. For the umpteenth time, I realized that I could have very easily been sitting where she was. And I thought about how much harder it is to leave a relationship during the holidays.

I'm told that victims often don't seek shelter in the days immediately preceding a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas. The desire to keep one's family intact is strong. Yet Harbor House's waiting room told a different tale.

It reinforced for me how valuable our program, as well as other advocacy organizations that serve victims of family violence, are to the community.

I encourage everyone to invest in the work that CourtWatch does so that we can continue to be a reassuring presence in the courtroom for victims. If everyone on our mailing list donated just $25, we would be able to fund a part-time volunteer coordinator for one year.

There's much about which we can be thankful. Please take the next few minutes to view this video of a song by Josh Groban and decide how you can be the change in your own circle of influence.

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