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During this holiday season we have the opportunity to press pause and think of all for which we are thankful—family, friends, shelter—the list is endless. However, I recently realized that there’s a gift that we have that perhaps we don’t always think of as a gift—the gift of serving others. I am incredibly thankful that I have this gift not just in my personal life, but in my professional life as well. An extraordinary example of this is our partnership between Health eVillages, Healthways Inc., and Foundation for Senior Living (FSL).

We recently partnered with FSL, based in Phoenix, AZ. FSL, with its tagline of “Faith, Service, Life” and their mission of “helping those you love live independently”, provides services that help people age in place. In addition to their focus on senior living, FSL also provides affordable housing, food pantries, adult day health services, and caregiver support. This aligned so incredibly well with our Healthways vision of “transforming the aging experience” and our mission of “empowering older adults to live their best lives with dignity”, that Health eVillages and Healthways quickly decided to contribute financially to FSL’s efforts.

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As important as this financial contribution is, it doesn’t end there.

As FSL services the Phoenix area, our Chandler based colleagues are able to physically participate in furthering our mutual missions. As such, 80+ colleagues spent time learning about FSL, 50+ participated in their 2nd Annual Relaxation Retreat (during which FSL educates and supports caregivers), and countless colleagues participated in an on-site “Turkey Trot” paired with a food drive for FSL. I was absolutely thrilled (and thankful!) to experience the level of enthusiasm and energy of our colleagues as they were actively engaged in doing whatever they could to help—from being “human arrows”, class facilitators, or cleaning up…from the smiles I observed, it didn’t matter what the job was—it only matter that they had the opportunity to service another in a meaningful way.

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We all know that financial contributions are necessary and important. However, there is something to be said for the opportunity to roll up our sleeves (or lace up our shoes!) to drive forward a critical effort. I firmly believe that we all have gifts that can and should be used to service others in a meaningful way—we just have to figure out what they are.  As Charles Dickens writes, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another”—whether it’s servicing the individual directly, or servicing the person who is servicing the person—you get the idea. J This thought is further echoed in the words of Mother Theresa: “Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same—with charity you give love, so don’t just give money, but reach out your hand instead.”

In collaboration with FSL, Healthways, and Health eVillages, we did just that—we extended our hands, and our hearts. And for that, I am truly thankful.

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