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Giving Thanks

November 24, 2010

There’s much to be thankful for here at goodneighborstories.com on this Thanksgiving. Since starting the website five months ago, I’ve had the privilege to meet many amazing good neighbors. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know them, and doubly blessed that I got to share their stories with you. Here are some of the reasons I feel so thankful this week.

I’m thankful for getting to know people like Donna Baranski-Walker of Rebuilding Alliance and Jeff Chow of Collaborate for Africa, whose minds think in such creative and expansive ways about how to make a difference in the world. These two are perfect examples of the well-used term “thinking outside the box”. Instead of thinking why something can’t happen, they think of how it can happen. And they’re able to figure out which people they need to draw into what they’re doing to make it happen.

I’m thankful for Derrick Kikuchi and Craig Wiesner, who combined their high-tech know-how, business sense and desire to change the world to create Reach and Teach. The company sells unique educational products from around the world that promote peace and social justice. The two teamed up with Rebuilding Alliance to open a shop in San Mateo called The Dove and Olive Works.

Then there’s Sabuhi Saddique and the the Ladies Auxiliary of the Silicon Valley chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, who not only help the community around them by collecting food, clothing and raising money, they also promote peace and understanding by meeting with women of other faiths.

There’s my friends at Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church, who this summer put on a summer enrichment program for refugee children new to the United States. Volunteers and staff with the partnering secular non-profit Refugee Transitions came together to help elementary through high school students have fun and learn to navigate their new community at the same time.

I got to share about Common Table, a wonderful new restaurant in Bend, OR., that is combining good food with doing good in the community. The profits from the restaurant go to help feed the hungry in Bend, and the restaurant serves as a community gathering spot.

I am thankful for the family of Jackson Miller, who were willing to share about the search for their son, and about how dozens of volunteers are working through a combination of old-fashioned leg work and modern social media to find him.

Pastor Ben Daniel is someone else I’m thankful I got to interview this year. Daniel wrote the book Neighbor; Christian Encounters With ‘Illegal’ Immigration. Daniel opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about undocumented workers and their families.

Back in June it was a joy to see the Produce Mobile at a San Jose health clinic become a reality for the first time. Thanks to the efforts of a non-profit, a government agency and people of faith, the Produce Mobile now brings fresh fruits and vegetables once a month to a neighborhood of people who can’t always afford them. And I’m thankful for Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, the provider of the Produce Mobile. Thanks to Second Harvest, I participated in a Hunger Action Challenge back in September, to help raise awareness of hunger in our communities. It made me think about hunger in new ways, and for that I am grateful.

Last week I witnessed first-hand another collaboration of many community groups and agencies at the second annual East Palo Alto homeless connect event, called EPA Connect II. It was wonderful to see so many volunteers give of their time to help homeless people get connected to the services they need.

I also feel honored to have met the people at Bethany Presbyterian Church in San Bruno. My heart is with that community this holiday season, as they continue to recover from the massive gas explosion that happened back in September. Three members of the church – all members of the Bullis family – were killed in the blast. Yet the church and the Presbyterian Church (USA) denomination are reaching out to their neighbors to help the community heal over the coming months.

Finally, I am thankful for all of you, the readers, who have supported the website over the last several months. Thank you for visiting the site, reading this blog, becoming a part of the Facebook page, or following the site on Twitter. I look forward to sharing many more stories of good neighbors with you for a long time to come.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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