This June, we celebrate the inaugural year of our Grateful Changemakers series. Over the past twelve months, we’ve delighted in the opportunity to honor inspiring initiatives from around the world that embody gratefulness. We’ve discovered projects and programs that help surface the values of gratefulness in schools, hospitals, recording studios, assisted living facilities, villages in Africa, and neighborhood kitchens. We’ve found gratefulness rooted in service that supports others in need: millennials who have suffered loss; people living with dementia and chronic disease; military personnel, veterans, first responders, and their families. And we’ve seen gratefulness helping to bridge divides across geography, generations, and culture.
The Grateful Changemaker series arose from our desire to honor catalyzing contributions toward a more peaceful and thriving world, in line with our organizational mission. As a network, we revel in the opportunity to uplift those who serve as beacons of gratefulness; we celebrate those who sow seeds of compassion, generosity, and joy in ways that nourish love and an interconnected sense of belonging. Understanding how gratefulness inspires the leaders of these featured initiatives to make change — as described in each interview — is welcome wisdom for all of us who hope to contribute to the world in meaningful ways. When we acknowledge how gratefulness can support not just individual but also organizational efforts toward collective change, we expand our sources of hope and possibility.
Below is our complete list of 2018-2019 Grateful Changemaker initiatives and interviewees with links to each of the features. May these projects and leaders inspire and invigorate your sense of hope and your own efforts to make gratefulness a catalyst for positive change:
Envision Kindness promotes kindness through compelling visual media in places where it’s needed most. (David Fryburg, co-founder and president)
Musicians for World Harmony offers the joy of music and music therapy to people impacted by disease, aging, war, and cultural divides. (Samite Mulondo, founder and executive director)
The Dinner Party helps facilitate dinner parties to bring together people mostly in their 20s and 30s who have experienced significant loss. (Lennon Flowers, co-founder and executive director)
ChangingAging is working to create a new culture of aging built on the values of gratefulness. (Kavan Peterson, co-founder and editor of ChangingAging.org )
Karma Kitchen is a volunteer-driven group of restaurants that inspires generosity by serving meals as gifts with an invitation for diners to pay it forward for the next guests. (Audrey Lin, coordinator of Karma Kitchen in Berkeley, California)
Hands Across the Hills brings together people with different political leanings to engage in dialogue and cultural exchange. (Paula Green, co-founder and lead organizer)
Inner Strength Foundation offers mindfulness programming to aspiring youth from primarily at-risk communities in Philadelphia. (Amy Edelstein, founder and executive director)
Ceres Community Project holistically serves communities through a multi-fold approach to providing nutritious meals for individuals facing a serious health challenge. (Deborah Ramelli, communications director)
Solar Sister trains and supports women to provide clean energy products to people in rural African communities. (Fid Thompson, communications director)
Operation Gratitude provides care packages with donated items to military personnel, their children left behind, first responders, veterans, “Wounded Heroes,” and their caregivers. (Kevin Schmiegel, CEO)
In appreciating the extraordinary breadth of these projects and programs, we recognize the variety of ways that gratefulness can manifest change, reveal our essential humanity, and bring people together. These initiatives remind us that gratefulness can and does serve the greater good. And they remind us that we can make a difference with our heart’s calling — if we honor it. May their example inspire us to heed our own heart’s calling in the name of all that gratefulness holds dear.
We look forward to sharing and celebrating the next year of Grateful Changemakers with our community. If you know of a project/program that elevates the values of grateful living, we invite you to submit a nomination.