It is a busy season around our offices this time of year. Like many nonprofit organizations, we are working diligently to reflect on our work over the previous months and finalize our strategic plans for the coming year, all while balancing holiday vacations and festivities. It can be easy to get caught up in the rush of the season, whether you are finalizing details at the office or braving crowds to pick up that perfect gift for a loved one.
At the same time we face this end of year rush, we are also dealing with a weight of sadness. 2017 has presented a series of real challenges and tragedies that many of us are still attempting to understand and work through. As a nation, the stress and strains of our political and social relationships are also challenging our ability to connect and work with one another. From the Pacific Northwest to the Southeast and around the world, natural disasters have left a path of destruction and pain. Unthinkable acts of violence have left countless communities shaken and heartbroken.
This undercurrent of pain, stress and anxiety may leave people feeling less than festive as we approach December. It is also why I am more grateful than ever this year for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Our family is currently scattered around the country, but for a few days this week we will “gather up” extended family from around the country in Austin, TX. We will try our best to ignore email and social media and be present in our lives together.
At the Murdock Trust, we get to see examples of incredible work every day and our mission leads us to serve and support hundreds of organizations working to improve their communities. These daily reminders of how the light can break through the darkness, how small but dedicated groups of individuals can have substantial impact on the lives of others are what fuel us through the challenging moments.
As I sit with my family and reflect on the previous year, I will think about all the groups that work tirelessly to help us enjoy a brighter 2018. Organizations like:
- The Faubion School and Concordia University in Portland, which are implementing the unique “3 to PhD” program. The facility not only offers educational opportunities for K-8 and college students, it also serves as a central hub for several key daily needs such as nutrition and medical support.
- The Britt Festival which continues to bring the gift of creativity and wonder to the state of Oregon.
- University of Washington researchers who are investigating ways to innovate in and serve the renewable energy field.
- The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium which opened a new dental clinic to provide and expand care to children in need.
- The Riverstone International School, where teachers like Jon Moreno-Ramirez are empowered to bring innovative and engaging teaching methods into the classroom.
- Montana State University, where researchers such as Dr. Blake Wiedenheft are working to understand the ways bacteria attack the immune system and advance healing.
It should remind us that we can all bring about positive change in the work we do every day, the words we choose, the conversations we have and the attitude we take with one another. When I see these organizations bringing light to their local communities, I cannot help but feel a sense of hope and optimism for our region and our country.
As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, I wish every one of you, your families and your friends a blessed a season of thanks.
Steve Moore, Executive Director
M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust