Giving Thanks this Thanksgiving

By Georgia Public Policy Foundation Staff

For many Georgians, 2021 has been a trying follow-up to a traumatizing 2020. Last year, many Thanksgiving gatherings fell short on attendance and grace amid the trauma of the pandemic and the still-fresh presidential election. This year, families are traveling once again, borders are largely open and COVID-19 is less terrifying, thanks to vaccinations, boosters and the increase in knowledge. Hope is in the air and spirits are lifting. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation staff, too, has much to be thankful for. And we’d like to share our bountiful blessings with you.

Kennedy Atkins, Donor Relations Manager
Grateful for a second chance at life

First, I am thankful for the supporters of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. Our work to preserve freedom and opportunity in Georgia would not be possible without your very generous support, and your support allows us to secure freedom for the next generation of Georgians. Second, I am thankful to live in the United States. I truly believe there is no greater country than ours. Being American is one of the greatest privileges I have, and I would have it no other way no matter what threats face us, within or external. Third, and most important, I am thankful this year for Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital and the wonderful team of doctors and nurses whose tireless work saved me and allowed me to have a second chance at life. They did more for me than I can ever repay.

Susan Benson, Operations and Engagement Manager
Grateful for family, friends and debate

I am filled with gratitude for the relationships that shape my life: My parents’ reverence for God and education; my children’s love and the pride I feel in them; the Foundation that teaches me why I believe what I do (and endows me with the ability to defend it); and my friends’ love and support over a lifetime. I love my snug little house in the woods and the cast of characters who are my neighbors. I’m grateful too, for those who disagree with me, because I learn from them, one way or another. It all flows from God, and I am blessed beyond measure.

Chris Denson, Director of Policy and Research
Grateful for health and hearth

This year, I am thankful for many things. First and foremost, my family and their good health, and a holiday season with certainly more travel planned than last year. This is due not only to a vaccine we didn’t have at this time a year ago, but a significant other that has chosen to lug me around to spend time with her family in different corners of the state. I suddenly have a lot more empathy for the planners and engineers at the Georgia Department of Transportation. I am also thankful for our great staff at the Foundation, who make it a pleasure to come to work (Zoom?) each day. Spending a third of your day with good folks certainly makes the challenges of the past two years easier, and the successes sweeter.

Benita Dodd, Vice President
Grateful for opportunity

I left apartheid South Africa in 1986 for my children’s sake: They deserved to grow up without being oppressed merely because of the color of their skin. Watching them – and now, their children – grow and thrive in our chosen home has been a marvel and a celebration for my family. We left a country where we had neither voice nor vote, one reason I consider the Foundation a godsend. I’m grateful every day that I can turn up, step up and speak up, joined by a team of motivated colleagues as we campaign thoughtfully and deliberately toward a better Georgia. For each of us, it’s more than a job; it’s a mission. For me, there’s no better way to show I’m thankful to America for the opportunity than to work for opportunity for all Georgians so that no Georgian is left behind.

Keara Vickers, Communications Director
Grateful for endurance

At midnight on New Year’s, I, like many folks, raised a glass to the promise of 2021. In many ways, our high expectations for this year were exceeded, and there is so much to be thankful for. But, like so many of us, I faced insurmountable private struggle and immense loss. Bones were broken. Tears were shed. Funerals were attended. Above all, I am thankful for endurance. Both for my own when it was needed, and for those around me whose endurance persevered when mine ran out. Every year has highs and lows, like data points on a graph. And, like analyzing any data, we must remember that the real answers happen between those points. I am thankful for slow Saturday morning coffees with my partner and our dogs; for the seasons in my garden, where I glimpse nature’s divine plan; to hear my grandmother’s voice when I call with a question about a tricky stain on my favorite sweater. I hope in this season of thanksgiving and the imminent holiday rush that you, too, can pause to see those small graces in an often-overwhelming year. Here’s to more of them in 2022.

Kyle Wingfield, President and CEO
Grateful for prayers

Kyle is in New York City, where he is recuperating after open-heart surgery on November 17. Read his column here.

I still remember the voicemail, four years later: I have some bad news. You need surgery. I’m scheduling appointments for you with two surgeons first thing next week … The prognosis is great. But the recovery won’t be easy, and I’ll be away from work, and thus column-writing, through year’s end. I have felt and appreciated all of the prayers that have already been said on my behalf, unworthy subject that I am. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. (That’s the part that still works!) I look forward to reconnecting once I’m back on my feet.