Of all the words I’ve Zoom’d, texted, or said this year, I think thank you have been my most often uttered ones. It feels contrary to the tone of this year, but as I sit at my desk while elbow deep in thank you cards to donors, partners, and team members, I’m thinking about the person who held the door open for me at Starbucks this morning. I emphatically thanked them, louder than usual, to make sure they could hear me across the distance and under the masks. I think of the nurses that took their personal cell phones into my parents COVID isolation hospital rooms and Facetimed my brother and me so we could see our parents, even from across the country. My dad breathlessly repeated thank you as he was introduced to his new grandchildren over the phone screen by a kind nurse in a hazmat suit. I think about my daily Zooms with our team at Born This Way Foundation, where my urge is to say thank you to each of them for doing this work and letting it break their hearts on the quest for a kinder, braver, and more just world.
When I asked each of you and our partners to show up together for those at the margins, you answered the call. You donated to our #ChannelKindness holiday campaign, you suggested nonprofits to support, and you reached out to everyone you knew who could give too. Thank you. Because of you, we were able to fundraise hundreds of thousands of dollars and donate thousands of books, toys, articles of clothing, shoes, PPE, and more. Every day, Susan sends me updates about what you, our incomparable community, have been able to give and whom our collective efforts are benefiting.
This year, our collective and individual grief reduced us to statistics. The parents that lost children struggling with isolation and mental health issues were reported on by the CDC. The children saying goodbye to their parents over the phone in locked down hospitals are bar graphs that go up and down on the evening news. The months between hugs. The days of virtual learning. We counted everything this year, and now that I look at the totals, the thank yous are what I’ll take into this next year with me.
People sometimes thank me for being so kind, as I get to be the one to call and let them know a donation is coming or our team can complete their Amazon wishlist. I always say, “It’s my job,” because it is. It is actually my job to be kind and that is not lost on me for one moment, especially this year. The gift that you, our Born This Way Foundation community, have given me and my colleagues, Susan, Mitu, Alex, Shadille, Josh M., Aya, Taylor, Aysha, Josh H., Risa, Celia, Cynthia, Emma, Terez, and Elissa, is incalculable but I’ll just say thank you. Thank you for joining us in meeting unmet needs in the world and for shouting “thank you” a little louder, over your mask, and across a safe distance.
It’s not too late to join us in giving back. Click here to support our #ChannelKindness Holiday campaign.
P.S. Please take a moment to thank the people you take for granted this holiday season. Top on my list is my husband Dave. His patience, kindness, humor, and hope in the face of sadness and loss has been my guiding light this year and it’s allowed me to do this work, for and with each of you. Thank You, Dave.