As I reflect on the past year, I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities presented to me. I’ve met new people, continued to learn new things, and have been able to give back to a community that I’m so passionate about. And when I focus on the positive aspects of this past year, it leaves me feeling optimistic about the year to come. I’m motivated to do more. Learn more. And to give even more to these neighborhoods that we’ve made our home in.
What is it that keeps me optimistic? It’s watching these kids thrive in our program. It’s seeing the smiles from the crowd at our annual Thanksgiving Eve feast. It’s getting to know our volunteers and recognizing that so many people care about our collective efforts here at CFUM. It’s working side-by-side with the most amazing team members that spend their days working to enrich the lives of others.
Just a few weeks ago, as I was walking the dining room at CFUM’s annual Thanksgiving Eve dinner, I recognized how much a simple gesture can do to create a sense of optimism in someone – whether a small child or a grown adult. I watched as many sat down – some a little uncomfortable – and then watched them warm up with food and conversation. And start smiling. And laughing. And even if just for a moment, perhaps forget about some of their hardships and maybe even feel a little of that happiness that does come through optimism.
I talked to volunteers that same night of the things for which they were most thankful. “To be a part of something bigger than me,” one said. “My family,” from another. “The fact that we’re all together.” “…That I’m home.”
Family was the center of everyone’s world. And that’s what we strive for at CFUM. We simply want to create an environment for our children that provides them the comfort and support like that of a family. And like a family, we help these children grow, and feel empowered, and understand that the world belongs to them, just as much as it does to me, or you, or anyone they ever encounter.
To accomplish this at the level I wish to, however, does, in fact, take more than a simple wish. It takes resources and time and investments and things that I know we can achieve if we pull together and combine efforts for this collective mission. But it does start with a wish. And a wish needs a vision, and that vision needs a plan.
To kick off our 2018 calendar year, we’ve made that wish list. The wishes that we know will help fulfill our mission to create a community that supports the potential of our youth. From classroom rugs that help fill our rooms with a sense of warmth, to iPods and board games that both teach and entertain. Each and every little donation makes a difference in the lives of these children.
You can view our full wish list. Take a look and share it with others. Look deeper within our site to learn more about the organization. Consider, right now, an end-of-year donation to CFUM. Then consider a recurring gift throughout 2018. CFUM needs and would welcome you to volunteer, as well. Please consider what you can give today. I will make my year-end contribution sometime between Christmas and New Year’s.
Like you, when I make my gift, I have satisfaction knowing we’re all making a difference in someone’s future. As donors, giving is truly a gift of optimism. We’re creating happiness and potential for an optimistic future for these children who are recipients of your kindness.
Please continue to consider ways you could experience the rich rewards of CFUM in your life through volunteering, mentoring, becoming a donor to our annual appeal or collecting items for our 2018 Wish List!
My best and warmest holiday wishes to you!
Jim Swanstrom, CFUM Executive Director