Deliberate acts of gratitude


Across our state, our country and around the world, we’re being asked to do our part to stop the spread of the coronavirus by staying at home. Infectious disease experts indicate that social distancing is the only effective weapon we have in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. In a time of shared suffering and crisis, staying at home doesn’t feel like enough. Our rational minds tell us that this is the right thing to do, but our hearts and souls struggle at our inability to do more to help others.

I'm one of the lucky ones who gets to stay home and telework. I feel the inner battle between my mind and my heart. It isn’t productive to think about what I can’t do, so my thoughts have turned to things that I can do. I’ve ticked off some of the easy things, like donating to my local food pantry and offering to shop for a neighbor.  

I started to think about random acts of kindness, and right now seems like the perfect time to step those up – but I also think about the things we take for granted. These are basics like electricity, running water, trash collection, fresh food and, yes, toilet paper.

Along with health care workers, who we know are putting themselves at risk on the front lines of this battle, there are countless other “essential” workers who get up each day and make sure life continues for the rest of us.

I'm so grateful to the people who continue to go to work each day and keep our country running. A lot of these workers don’t often hear a simple “thank you.” So in addition to staying at home and being kind to each other, I think we should all start practicing “deliberate acts of gratitude.” Things like leaving a note of thanks for your trash collector or drawing a chalk message thanking your postal carrier. These are things we can do while staying at home, flattening the curve and maintaining social distance. 

In the past three weeks, I’ve been amazed by the things ordinary people have done to share the joy of music amid tragedy, connect with one another and thank those who have helped their loved ones.

I'm sure if we all put our minds to it, we can think of wonderful ways to thank the essential workers. Here is a short but by no means complete list of the workers we can reach out to with a deliberate act of gratitude:

•    trash collectors
•    utility workers
•    grocery store clerks
•    agricultural workers
•    truck and delivery drivers
•    paper mill workers
•    gas station attendants

My role at OFRI deeply connects me to the forest sector in Oregon. I am honored and humbled to work with the people in this sector. The team at OFRI put together this short video  to thank the employees at the Georgia Pacific mill in Wauna, Ore. They are working around the clock to manufacture toilet paper to meet unprecedented demand in Oregon and beyond.

My challenge to you is to find a way to thank these employees and other essential workers, and share it with us on our Twitter, Facebook or Instagram accounts. We’ll share these with our followers, and hopefully these acts of gratitude will reach far beyond our individual efforts.

Erin Isselmann
Executive Director



9755 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 210        
Portland, OR 97225        
Phone: 971-673-2944        
Fax: 971-673-2946

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