The Meaning of Thanksgiving

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icon-clock November 22, 2023

Dear GCF Community,

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I’m mindful that every holiday including this one means different things to different people. For some, Thanksgiving is a time to meet with family and friends, break bread, reunite, and celebrate. For some, it is a reminder of the heritage of Indigenous Peoples in America and regarded as a national day of mourning for them and their allies. What most of us think of as Black Friday – one of the largest capitalist shopping days of the year – is also known as Native American Heritage Day. For others, it is an emphasis on disparity and lack of resources, support, and wellness.

While respecting everyone’s lived experience and cultural practices, I also want to acknowledge the diversity of perspectives within the GCF community and beyond. We are all on a journey and there is value in naming the various paths and principles of all stakeholders in our ecosystem.

For me, the focus of this season is gratitude which is a perspective that I think is constructive and important as we seek to be the change we want to see in the world.

Personally, I am thankful for lots of things. I’m thankful for my health. I’m thankful for easy access to clean water. I’m thankful for a home with a safe roof over my head to come home to every day. I’m thankful for a career and income and economic ability to support myself and my loved ones. I’m thankful for a general sense of safety in my day to day life and the hopeful perspective of being able to make contributions to positive change in the world. These are things I wish for the entire GCF community.

I’m grateful for being part of a phenomenal community of GCF participants, Corps Members, alumni, staff, board, residents, and stakeholders who are doing the hard work of walking the talk and focusing on systems change.

At GCF, our hope and healing approach to the young people we serve is real. We do not always get it right. But, our aim is true. The young people who come through our doors and build skills while transforming NYCHA developments are the fuel that drives me to lead this work. My nickname for Cohort 26 is “fuel” and I call the Eco-Hub Fellows “the treasures.” I am grateful for a space where we can evolve, correct, iterate, learn, and support. GCF is such an important platform for audacious optimism. Everyday, we see sparks of magic in the words and actions of our Corps Members serving their neighbors and our graduates greening the city.

I attended an event recently where I was reminded of the African story of the hummingbird. The message from the parable is that everyone has a part to play. We all have a part to play. I am thankful for having a part to play and I am thankful for all of you who have your part to play from Corps Members, alumni, staff, supporters, board, partners and family.

There is also an African proverb I want to share with you all. It says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Thank you to everyone who has been on this journey with us–old and new. I am thankful for all of you.

We are a movement, we are the force.


In service and gratitude,

Tonya Gayle

Executive Director