Letter From the President: A Healthy Dose of Gratitude

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

I’ll start with a riddle of sorts.  When combined, what are the two most powerful words in the English language?  “Thank” and “you,” of course!  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a good healthy dose of gratitude, whether receiving it or giving it to someone else. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year.  As a child, ours was the house where the whole HUGE extended family gathered most years for the Thanksgiving feast.  It was loud and messy and wonderful.  Having dozens of aunts and uncles and cousins and friends together in one place for most of the day was one of the highlights of the year.  I’m sure the food was terrific, too, but I really don’t remember. Just the chatter…and the love.  We had (and still have) much for which to be thankful.

Like an impetuous child, 2020 needs a little “time-out.”  During this turbulent crazy year when words like “unprecedented” and “pivot” became a part of our daily vernacular, it may be a little tougher than usual to find cause for gratitude.  But if we dip just below the surface there are still many reasons to give thanks this year:

  • If you’ve stayed healthy during the pandemic, be thankful.
  • If your loved ones are healthy and still with you, be thankful.
  • If you’ve been able to pivot and continue to serve your community’s people and animals, be thankful.
  • If you have a roof over your head, and far too many don’t, be thankful.
  • If you have food on your table, even if you’re partaking of it in smaller groups this year, be thankful.
  • If you’re part of this big, increasingly diverse animal welfare gumbo, be thankful.
  • If you’ve mastered all the video conferencing platforms and continued to network and to learn, be thankful.
  • If you enjoy the unconditional love and companionship of one (or more!) pets, be thankful.

Hopefully this short list got you started on the journey of making your own Thank You List.  Mine wouldn’t fit into this short greeting.

2020 will soon come to an end…then there’s 2021!  Today it feels full of promise and possibilities.  And, indeed it is.  And it will carry its fair share of challenges, too.  Animal welfare professionals are masters of managing through those challenges.  We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again.

Throughout Thanksgiving and the holiday season I wish you peace and gratitude.  And take that gratitude with you into the new year.  We will most likely continue to need it.  One of the things near the top of my Thank You List is you.  Our remarkable network of members has sustained me these past 36 years through the good times and the bad.  WE ARE ONE. Let’s always remember that and bolster one another.  When things look grim, remember there’s a whole big support system out here for you. Hug one another (virtually, of course) and spend some time with the animals who brought you to this work. They are our strongest medicine. Oh, and grab an extra slice of pumpkin pie this year.  You deserve it.


Jim Tedford, CAWA, is President and CEO of The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement.

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