As we enter the season where words like “giving” and “gratitude” tend to be overused, I invite you to think more deeply about the phrases you’re seeing everywhere, from marketing campaigns and emails to the promotion of holiday paper plates and scented candles.

The art of giving thanks and expressing gratitude comes into focus around Thanksgiving. However, making this a regular or even daily practice has surprising benefits.

Robert Emmons, a leading scientific expert on gratitude, has done several studies that indicate grateful thinking and grateful moods can lead to better and longer sleep, a more positive work environment, and even more engaged citizenship. Emmons suggests keeping a gratitude journal to regularly record brief reflections on moments for which we are thankful.

Of course, gratitude isn’t only important in self-practice. At the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, we are so thankful to be part of a generous community that gives freely of its valuable resources and time.

Last month’s Walk Against Domestic Violence surpassed its fundraising goal of $90,000! Thank you to everyone who raised funds and donated to directly support our survivor services; because of you, we can continue our lifesaving work to move families from crisis to safety and independence. Thank you to those that volunteered to make the day a success; because of you, we raised awareness and engaged our local community to end domestic violence.

The holiday season and year-end are known not only for giving thanks, but for giving time and resources to causes you care about. I implore you to carefully consider who needs your support the most.

A new report from the IUPUI Women’s Philanthropy Institute revealed that organizations focused on women and girls collectively received a mere 1.6% of all charitable donations in the United States in 2016. Philanthropist Melinda Gates is shedding light on this issue and moving the needle forward by committing $1 billion to promote gender equality, with at least one priority to support girls pursuing careers in STEM.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math, industries that have historically been male dominated. Girls Inc., a national research, education and direct advocacy organization that inspires girls to be strong, smart and bold, created a STEAM program (adding in the arts) to develop girls’ enthusiasm and skills for these industries.

The Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center has an affiliate program called Girls Inc. of the Seacoast Area, which offers programs to girls in Amesbury, Georgetown, Groveland, Ipswich, Merrimac, Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley, Salisbury and West Newbury. I applaud Melinda Gates for her work to empower women and young girls.

Here at the crisis center, we receive inquiries at this time each year asking where donations are needed and how to help the families we serve experience a holiday season filled with warmth and joy.

Through our holiday giving program, you can donate gift cards to offset expenses like groceries, gas or holiday shopping. We give these donated gift cards to families in need all year long. Individuals or organizations can adopt a family to provide gifts for the holiday season. We also partner with Jabberwocky Bookshop in Newburyport to ensure that each child we serve receives a new book at the holidays.

During the last year, we helped over 1,300 adult and child survivors of domestic violence at no cost to them through our advocacy, counseling and legal services. We also reached over 1,100 students in our youth empowerment and prevention services.

In addition to Girls Inc. of the Seacoast Area, we offer bystander education programs for middle school boys and girls, and healthy relationships and teen dating violence prevention for high school youths.

None of this would have been possible without the generosity of our local community – from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you. Happy Thanksgiving!

Suzanne Dubus is CEO of the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center.

 

 

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