Operation Gratitude

In the early days of COVID coming into focus in the United States, as we all struggled to get a glimpse of understanding as to what this virus was, how it was transmitted, and how it would impact our daily life, my constant worry was about how this was going to affect the life of my young daughter. 

On the Friday afternoon just before Spring Break, not knowing, only suspecting, that this day in late March would be the last day that in person school would happen in Oregon for a good long while, I was in tears watching kids disperse and teachers wave them into the buses & carpools that would usher them home. 

I was consumed with questions whose impact focused on my small one: Would we remain healthy as a family unit? How would we keep her engaged in academics? Would her friendships sustain her, even at a distance? 

Since that time, as we have found our way in living & parenting thru a pandemic. There have been heavy, heavy days where the weight of what is expected has seemed too much to bear. But there have been other days too... amazing, joy-filled days that only seem afforded to us because the way the world has slowed. 

Over the past nine months my thinking, praying & advocacy has developed... first to folks struggling with food insecurity who could do with a bit of help. Then to entrepreneurs like us who were in need of community & learning to navigate these murky small business waters. 

But as of late, the past two weeks in particular, I'm awake most nights concerned about the well-being of our teachers & school staff.

In some ways, that circles back to my small human. Her teachers are her life's first heroes. The way they notice her growth, make mention of her effort, & provoke her to push past behavior that won't serve her well is not lost on her. She trusts them. She loves them.

Likewise, the work of the janitor at her school might be to clean the floors, but to her, it's been his smile & gentle demeanor that she's missed these many months. She giggles as she tells me stories of her small group leader who occasionally struggles with hard Spanish words (she attends a full immersion school) but she loves that he tries & she's loved that she could help him as much as he was helping her. 

Thinking of these fine folks, & how their reality has changed... how their work has become increasingly more difficult & debated &, in some cases, dangerous... I've been up night after night wondering & worrying how to care for them. 

And so, this is what I've come up with...

If every member of every book group, church choir, PTA, or running club in the universe took the time to write one post card to one teacher in their local community, I'm fairly certain we could create a 1 to 1 ratio of joy & kindness in the lives of a segment of our population who is persevering to serve our future generations with compassion, poise, & resilience.

If you decide that this is an effort worthy of being taken up, here are some practical ideas that could help us accomplish the goal of encouraging every teacher, everywhere.

-- This project isn't just for parents with children in schools. If you live somewhere with a mailing address, it is likely you have a school near you. Contact your neighborhood school & ask them how you could go about getting a postcard or letter of encouragement to someone on their staff. For our school, we write our letters or postcards to the staff member, put their name & postage on those & then put them inside ANOTHER envelope that is posted & addressed to the school where the administrators can send them along to their home addresses. 

-- Utilize your network. If you're a part of a professional organization (perhaps the Rotary, a union, or what used to be a weekly coffee meeting with other executives), a religious circle, or other group that is figuring out how to remain connected in spite of the social distancing expected of us at this time, propose taking this on as a special project. 

-- If you're a shopkeeper, consider making this a community project for your customers to fill out over the course of the next few weeks. What better way to give thanks for your local community as your community is patronizing your store!

-- Tell them why their work is important. Maybe about your own child. Maybe about how their work affects our larger community. Maybe about how your teacher, oh so long ago, made a profound impact on your life.

In order to help with this work, we've made a postcard for you to be able to print (you can also right click the image above). If you want to print them off affordably & distribute them to your group, go for it! If you have a pile of postcards you've been looking for a reason to dust off & use, go that route! Letters are encouraged. Heck! If you've got a budget for sky-writing, get moving!!

Thank you for even considering coming alongside of us in this project. We hope our teachers hear the heart of a hurting world. We hope they'll know thru this project & thousands of small acts of kindness channeled their way, that we are forever grateful for the way they've waded into these waters for the sake of us all.