Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said, “I am thankful for living in a faith-based community of people who help one another as we’ve seen in recent weather disasters and I’m thankful of the blessings that the community is receiving from new investments in our community, providing many jobs and helping to enhance our quality of life.” After he and his wife survived a head-on collision on their way to a wedding on May 15, 2010, Rowland took a moment to reflect on the blessings that no lives were lost and expressed appreciation for Cleveland’s emergency medical services. “They are just phenomenal!” he said. “They were there in minutes and took excellent care of me and my wife. There were no injuries to the other drivers. We are so thankful to be alive and for everyone who sent out prayers and expressed their concern for us.”
Dwight Donohoo, homeless services director at the Cleveland Emergency Shelter, said, “What I am thankful for the most is for God giving me life. I am also thankful for my family, friends and my job which I’ve had for nearly 25 years.”
Peggy Johnson, a staff member at the shelter said, “Every day is a day of thanksgiving for me. I’m thankful for everything. I have four grown children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren and I’m thankful for them all. Since tomorrow is not promised to us and we could be here today and gone today I am grateful to still be alive. I’ll be 73 this month.”
John Boyd, a resident at the shelter, said, “I am so thankful for this shelter. It has helped me a lot. It’s giving me a place to stay, where I can eat and work to show my appreciation. I do what I can around here. I am also thankful for the people and businesses who contribute to the shelter.”
Clara Hawkins agreed, adding, “I can’t tell you how much I have learned about how people become homeless and how to come out of it. I work at McDonald’s and I am thankful for my job and for this shelter. It has been a very positive experience for me. We’re like a family here. We’ve got each other’s backs.”
Doris Erwin, who had three heart surgeries this year, said she is thankful be alive and to be with her only child, Thomas Swafford, who was at a loss for words when he thought about having his mother by his side.
“It is a real blessing to be here with her,” he said.
Erwin, 73, a member of Shiloh Baptist Church in Cleveland, said she is thankful to God for the gift of life after having valve, stint and open heart surgery earlier in the year.
According to Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, head of the division of biologic psychology at Duke University Medical Center, if thankfulness were a drug, “it would be the world’s best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system.”
Dr. Clay Routledge, an assistant professor of psychology at North Dakota State University, said in a 2009 online article titled “The Benefits of Being Thankful — Reasons to give thanks” that he discovered it is personally and socially advantageous to be thankful.
Routledge referred to three experiments by researchers Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, who found evidence that the experience of gratitude leads to positive psychological, physical and social outcomes.
“In general, participants who were asked to think about what they were grateful for ... experienced greater levels of optimism, positive mood, and feelings of belongingness over the period of the study,” Routledge said. “That is, experiencing gratitude promoted psychological well-being. Further, in one study, these participants reported fewer physical illness symptoms and indicated [they spend] more time exercising. This suggests that gratitude may also promote healthy living.”
The article concluded by saying, “The take home message is that being grateful is good for you and those around you. So on Thanksgiving, be sure to take a little time to actually be thankful. Also, even though Thanksgiving is the holiday that such reflection is perhaps most likely, based on the research conducted by Emmons and McCullough, it may be a good idea to take a little time each day to be grateful.”