Where Have You Found Gratitude?

Attitude of Gratitude collage

Attitude of Gratitude


At the Y, we are celebrating Gratitude Month culminating in the Thanksgiving Holiday. This year has been most unusual, given the pandemic, social unrest, a presidential election and more. Has it been difficult for you to find those expressions of gratitude?


Many are looking forward to the year being over, and starting anew in 2021. Looking back, what has sustained you this year? What have you given thanks for? Where has your gratitude been expressed? Since many (most!) of our usual activities and ways of daily living have been curtailed, we have been led to find new ways to live, love, survive, and find meaning. As this fraught year draws to a close, I am personally reflecting on gratitude for the following, and wonder if you join me in at least some of them?


We live in an extraordinarily beautiful area, populated with trails, unique neighborhoods, and places to walk too numerous to count. Our Y Girls on the Run, Trailblazers, and Trail Snails programs are full of kids safely enjoying time with friends outside.



Are you tired of zooming? Yet, this amazing technology has managed to keep us connected to one another for business meetings, weddings, family reunions, memorial services, book clubs, and yes, even Y exercise classes.



Our dog, Tulip, came into our lives nearly 3 years ago. We have especially appreciated her boundless energy, eager smile and beautiful brown eyes, unconditional love, and her need to go outside which forces us out as well. We count on Tulip to help raise our spirits and improve our mental health. I am grateful for the Y, which provides that same spirit “lift”.



With 3 grandchildren nearby, I am in awe of parents and kids who have pivoted to make life work in the midst of a chaotic time. So too has your YMCA. Staff members are meeting the needs of our community in many and various ways - delivering food and masks, providing childcare for the children of our essential workers, and working closely with area schools to provide care and assistance even as the schools struggle to decide how to “do school”. I am grateful for a Y that knows how to deliver essential services during unprecedented times.



Like many of you, my regular exercise routine fell by the wayside for seven months. Once the Y was able to safely re-open and offer limited group exercise classes, I was one of those members who slowly began to return by signing up online 24 hours in advance. I wasn’t sure how safe I’d feel. Two months into this weird routine, I feel completely comfortable and grateful to add a bit of normalcy to my life. It is also wonderful to “see” (we wear masks) Y staff and members once again.*


Community Support:

Because the Y was closed for several months, we predictably saw a drop in membership and suspension of many programs. We lost revenue which, in a normal year, would help us meet our budget. Happily, we have been supported through grant monies which has helped us stay afloat. You are a huge part of that support and I am grateful each day that your support and that of our larger community helps keep the Y vital during these changing times.


Gratitude is all about thankfulness for blessings big and small. What sustained you this year? What have you given thanks for? Where has your gratitude been expressed?


About the author:

Pam Nyberg Kiesner has been a lifelong Y member, beginning in Minneapolis MN. She is a retired Director of the Bellingham Public Library and serves as Chief Volunteer Officer (CVO) of the Whatcom Family YMCA. She and her husband, Kenn, and Tulip, their dog, have lived in Bellingham for 16 years.


*On November 15, Governor Inslee's office announced necessary precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19. We will provide updated information about our facility very soon.

Category: Personal Y Stories