Stories of Gratitude

13 Key Community Voices Express One-Sentence Stories of Thanks

Hal Conklin circa 2017 | Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

Having spent the last two months under the care of doctors, nurses, and therapists at Cottage Hospital, Sansum Clinic, numerous pharmacists, and the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center, I can’t help but feel an enormous sense of gratitude for the health-care workers in our community. Now that we are in the traditional month of thanksgiving, I invited a variety of people to join me in sharing one thought about something for which they, too, were grateful this year.

How Gratitude Can Change Your Life
Every morning when I wake up, which is almost always at some point between 3 and 4 in the morning, the first think I do is sit down in front of my computer and write out my morning Gratitude List. It always starts with “Today I am grateful for … .” But the funny thing? Each morning, I realize just how much I do have to be grateful for.

In the words of Robert Kanaat, “What I’ve come to realize is that no matter the state or quality of our lives, whatever outcomes we’ve produced, goals we’ve reached (or failed to reach), what decisions we’ve made, and where we’ve ended up has almost everything to do with focus. While some things might be out of our control, much of what happens based on our thoughts, emotions and behaviors, are largely a conditional response to our focus.

“That’s also why it’s so important to be grateful no matter what’s happening in your life. Even if you’re going through turmoil, and even if your entire world is crashing down around you, you have to be grateful. While it might sound strange, gratitude is the surest pathway to both success and happiness.

“Gratitude can transform your life by strengthening and enhancing your faith. Whatever faith or religion you believe in, whether it’s God, Allah, Buddha, or even that spiritual oneness that binds us to each other for all you agnostics out there, gratitude can strengthen and enhance your faith and belief in whatever school of thought to which you subscribe.

“There’s a deep-rooted appreciation for things that arise for those who are grateful. In fact, it becomes baked into the very fabric of their being. In turn, it strengthens their faith and belief in all things. For me, it’s my belief in God and the realization that I am truly and completely grateful for everything in my life, including all my problems.

“Gratitude transforms your faith by instilling the belief that you’re not alone and that whatever it is you are going through, it will pass; on the other end, you’ll be victorious. You’ll accomplish your goals, overcome your obstacles, and become a better person, one who’s more sympathetic and even empathetic to plight of others.”

I asked a number of key members of our community, “for what are you thankful today?” And here are their answers, as well as mine.

Stories of Gratitude

Throughout 2020 I have become increasing aware of how grateful I am to live in a community that possesses so many health-care workers who are “angels” among us. Their skills give our community a foundation of health and healing second to none.” —Hal Conklin, Former Mayor, City of Santa Barbara

My deepest gratitude to the unsung heroes of this past year — the essential workers caring for our elderly, for our small children, the checkout workers in the markets, the postal workers, the janitors and receptionists in our health-care system, to everyone who has kept our world in balance during the pandemic.” —Steve Cohen, Senior Rabbi, Congregation B’nai B’rith, Santa Barbara

“Life is a gift of love” — for all the ways that love engenders people to live fully the blessings given to us as gifts. —Fr. Larry Gosselin, OFM, Pastor, Old Mission Santa Barbara

Jeannine’s is thankful for being on the receiving end of a community that rallies around small business, lifelong customers who support us in good times and bad, and our loyal staff who continue to believe in us. There is no place we would rather be! —Alison Hardey, Jeannine’s Restaurant, Bakery & Café, COO

I am grateful for living in a community that has come together to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by supporting one another to wear masks and to social distance in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 virus and not overwhelm the resources of our medical community.” —Dr. Steven Hosea, Pediatric Medical Group; Infectious Specialist and Director of Clinical Care with the Internal Medicine Training Program at Cottage Hospital.

I am grateful for all the faith congregations who are reaching out to people in our community with love and who continue to prayerfully teach the truth and hope we all need in this challenging time. —Colleen Hurley Bates, Pastor, Free Methodist of Santa Barbara

At Jane Restaurant, our hearts are filled with gratitude for our steadfast and loyal customers, our entire staff who tirelessly give the restaurant their very best every day, our family and friends who have continually lifted us up with joy, laughter, thoughts, and prayers. Fires, floods, and pandemics can’t change the fact that we all are blessed to live in a very caring, resilient and strong community. This too shall pass, but our deep gratitude will always remain. —Margaret Huston, Jane Restaurant

I am most grateful for the outpouring of signage in my neighborhood that indicated support of racial and gender equity, which was a pleasant surprise to me. —E. Onja Brown Lawson, President, Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee

I’m thankful for our neighbors who have stepped up to offer assistance to other neighbors in need. Whether it’s offering to shop for others who are at high risk for getting ill, or sharing the bounty from their own gardens, the outpouring of generosity toward others in our community has been heart-warming and good for the soul. —Paula Lopez, Realtor; Former KEYT Newscaster

I remain grateful for the endless opportunities to learn from one another and become better community members, thus a better community. —James Joyce, Founder, Coffee With A Black Guy

I am grateful to all the teachers, staff members, and parents across Santa Barbara County who are digging deep to help our children succeed despite the enormous challenges of the day. —Anthony Ranii, Principal, Montecito Union School

I am thankful that in Santa Barbara County, from Carpinteria to Santa Maria, we came together to help one another — the amazingly brave doctors, nurses, and medical teams; the neighbors who sewed masks; the arts community who created moments of joy; the teachers, students, and parents who struggled to teach and learn; the strangers who reached out to the hungry, the frightened, and the lonely; and also on a personal note, the journalists who worked so diligently to bring vital information about this changing crisis to us all. —Marianne Partridge, Editor in Chief, The Santa Barbara Independent

We are exceedingly grateful for the opportunity to serve the wonderful, supportive, and resilient community of Montecito. —Kevin Taylor, Montecito Fire Chief

Let’s invite the world into our hearts. Let’s pray for the happiness, health, and strength of everyone on the planet and realize that every one of these people, known and unknown, are our brothers and sisters. Let’s set a large banquet table in our hearts and invite them in, knowing that their job, their health, and the prosperity will bring us joy as well. What a graced Thanksgiving that would be for us all! —Vrajaprana, Nun, Vedanta Temple


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