There is a lot of grace given to those with a heart of gratitude. As a society, we package this concept in many different ways. Phrases like, “don’t ever burn a bridge” or “you will get further with honey than vinegar” point back to the benefits of gratitude. Here at Health Partners Free Clinic, we get to bear witness to both sides of this concept.
With the Healing Jar Gala, our annual fundraiser to support the mission of the Clinic, season coming to a close we have the privilege of thanking the many individuals and companies that contributed to Health Partners. Our patients rarely get the same honor.
They are so appreciative of the high quality health care that we deliver every year due to the kind community donors that choose to keep our doors open, but will probably never have the chance to thank one of these donors directly. I’m sure a platform for this could be created; however, we do our best to deliver this message by proxy, to those who choose to give.
Many of our patients say ‘thank you’ with a donation of their own. These forms of thank you range from cash to cookies, and everything in between. Many who have nothing to give practically kiss us on their way out of the Clinic, stringing together words of gratitude while in disbelief of what they just received. This year brought an extraordinary form of ‘thank you’, when a former patient told us that he would be donating a unique piece of his artwork for our art auction at the Healing Jar. Who would have ever imagined?
Many of our donors express their gratitude for what we at Health Partners do for the community, as well. I recall a phone conversation I had with a donor years ago that intrigued me with a “tradition” that her family had started.
She said, “Oh we choose a different charity to give to every Christmas.” “My children and their families do the same and we use this as gifts to each other.”
I had heard of this before, so it was not the concept that bewildered me. However, what she said next lifted an eyebrow:
“Even my son gave to you all one year, in fact, I believe he still does give,” she stated.
“Indeed he does,” I responded with little regard to privacy at this point. “Actually he has given religiously over this past year, even sending along little notes of encouragement with his donations.”
I’m sure the adoring mother felt the same lump in her throat that I did after revealing her son’s actions, but if she did I did not hear it. Perhaps she was not shocked by his generous way, and there are so many more in our community that give just like this.
However, when donors and patients-alike, choose to show their gratitude they not only bring joy and healing to others, but also experience many benefits for themselves. Research shows that grateful people are happier and more likely to maintain good friendships. A state of gratitude, according to research by the Institute of HeartMath, also improves the heart’s rhythm which in turn reduces stress, helps us to think more clearly under pressure and heal physically.
It’s actually physiologically impossible to be stressed and thankful at the same time. When you are grateful you flood your body and brain with emotions and endorphins that uplift and energize you rather than the stress hormones that drain you. Luckily, gratitude is like a muscle. The more we use it, the stronger it gets.
I am blessed to say ‘Thank You,” many times throughout my day. Thank you to our volunteers. Thank you to the Health Partners’ staff and board. Thank you to the donors, grantors, foundations, and funders of the clinic. Thank you to Miami County residents for finding our mission worth 16 years of support.
We’re just thankful to be able to thank, and I hope others can find that gratitude-inspiring piece of their lives as well. Gratitude, if allowed, will shine in your life like some wonderful summer day that not even the rain can penetrate.
So find something to be thankful for today and thank someone for it. Don’t treat these phrases like some sort of power play. Go out there and truly make yourself vulnerable in the spirit of gratitude!
Justin Coby has been affiliated with Health Partners Free Clinic as a volunteer pharmacist since 2007, and was appointed executive director in 2012.