The other side of Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon G...

The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863-1930). Image via Wikipedia

The campus is quiet this week.  Most students have left for a week long Thanksgiving break. Many will join their families for the day set aside for giving thanks. Thinking of all the students spreading out, going home made me think of another aspect of Thanksgiving. I wonder how many people around the globe are giving thanks every week because someone associated with JMU has made a difference in their lives?  All you have to do is go to the Be the Change website and you’ll see what I mean.

Some people in Uganda are thankful because Daniel Morgan (’10) had the bright idea to invent a machine that has streamlined their brick making process. Closer to home, people in Richmond, Va., enjoy the beautiful Byrd Theatre because of the efforts of Bertie Martin Selvey (’58) to save the historic building. Hundreds of African-American poets are, no doubt, thankful that Joanne Gabbin has provided a new opportunity for their voices. Thousands of college alumni, students (and their parents) are thankful for the transformative leadership of educators like President Emeritus Ronald E. Carrier.  Young people in Haiti are thankful to Matt Trybus and OYE for the opportunities to break through the cycle of poverty plaguing their nation. Afghans are thankful for people like Tyler Moyer (’08) who helped with elections in that country. Citizens in Welch, W.Va., are thankful for the ongoing efforts of Mary Slade and her students as they continue to deliver hands-on change to that region.

The names go on and on and on and on — and our online list is only a representation of the thousands of hours of thought, sweat equity and compassion that go into the kinds of change that JMU students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends deliver so effectively.

Change requires someone or some group to act, but it is in that singular or collective action that lives are changed. Change requires the ability to see a problem, the vision to design a solution and the courage to execute a plan. In the end, someone is acting and someone else is thanking. Think of it this way — whenever you take the steps to change a life, you also deliver Thanksgiving.

So as you sit down with your family and friends, think about it. Who has delivered change that you are thankful for this year?

Happy Thanksgiving.

(There will be no post on Thursday this week.)


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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