The end of the calendar year is traditionally a time of reflection – looking back on the year’s achievements, challenges, joys, and losses. While 2020 is no different in that regard, our reflections are paired with an urgent desire to put this difficult year behind us.

So, even as we eagerly await the turn of the calendar page to 2021, we cannot resist the temptation to reflect a bit. While it would be easy to focus on the many difficulties that this year delivered (and we don’t take any of those lightly), for this exercise in reflection, we choose the lens of gratitude – as we learned from our mentor and friend Jill Friedman Fixler who perfected the practice of gratitude[1].

In that spirit, here are some of the many things for which we are grateful as we enter the last hours of 2020:

The resilience of nonprofit leaders, who quickly redesigned program models to meet increased demands for food assistance, mental health support, and employment services; who creatively reinvented the arts through virtual access; who supported families in an evolving education system; and who, sadly and compassionately, made heartbreaking budget decisions.

The creativity and perseverance of volunteer engagement professionals, who found new ways to harness the power of volunteers to meet community needs, welcoming in new volunteers and nurturing the relationships with others who could not safely engage in their traditional roles; who accelerated the adoption of virtual training and virtual volunteering and stand ready to incorporate these strategies ongoingly; and who convened to share new practices, lessons learned, and mutual support during these uncertain months.

The generosity of funders, especially those who recognize that engaging volunteers is instrumental to COVID-19 recovery and who adapted funding strategies and priorities to support creative, timely solutions now – and for the long term.

The dedication and openness of our clients, who adapted, listened, offered solutions, pivoted from in-person trainings to virtual, asked for guidance and accepted it, made the case to leadership, and continued to be our partners in this work.

The friendship of colleagues, who collaborated with us on solutions, convened for virtual meet ups for tea, shared the burdens of the year, and made us laugh as well.

And, most of all, the courage of volunteers, whose passion and commitment delivered food, fought wildfires, tested vaccinations, marched for justice, cared for animals, checked in with seniors, provided skills, and so much more.

All of you are our heroes of 2020 and we are so very grateful for your role in our lives and work this year.

Thank you.

[1] Gratitude has been shown in multiple studies to enhance health and wellbeing – and we can all use as much health and wellbeing at this time.