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Thankful for Heroes of All Descriptions

November 25th, 2013

She is certainly a hero--the Forrest Hills School bus driver who got all the students safely off the bus before it went up in flames last week.

No less a hero is Marcel Suazo who utilized financial skills classes and connections through UCOM to purchase her own home through Habitat for Humanity...and share it with many temporarily homeless friends, family and acquaintances over the past few years.

Heroes may be the stunningly successful like Dr. Jessica Cruz who utilized her elementary school opportunity with UCOM's Homework House to help her to rise as a first-generation immigrant with no knowledge of English to earning a doctor of education degree from Columbia (NY) University and a achieving a position at Grand Valley State University.

Others may be people who just heroically keep trying to beat--successfully or not--whatever limits them: addiction, mental illness, poverty. Heroes are people who don't give up.

Billy was a hero. He was loving and kind and compassionate, a hard worker who would share whatever he had with anyone who needed it. He was an off-and-on practicing alcoholic as long as I knew him. When he was sober, he was at UCOM laying carpet, building fences, painting, repairing roofs. He died last Christmas season. Among his last visitors were most of the staff of UCOM. His request for Christmas presents: a ballcap and homemade cookies to share with his Hospice roommate. Heroes come in all different guises.

YOU are the real hero for whom I am thankful today--the hero that won't give up on their neighbors EVER. You are the one who gives with your whole heart. YOU are the one who loves unconditionally. You are the hero who understands that we can't all be what the world sees as a success.

Heroes give to make sure the innocent children don't suffer. You knit mittens and give food and money to pay for additional educational needs so these little ones can grow up to be "productive" members of society. You move beyond hero when you give so that repeat ex-offenders who don't seem to deserve another chance get one anyway.

Heroes listen to and advocate for people with disabilities. Super-heroes include all kinds of people in their circle of friends and acquaintances. YOU go above and beyond what is required to be my hero.

Perhaps a hero is just someone who does the best they can with what they have. Whatever the extent of the love, understanding, compassion, peace, hope and help with which you have been blessed, you extend with all your might and all your powerlessness to those with whom you come in contact.

You are the hero for whom I am most grateful this month of Thanksgiving.

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