The most recent weeks in this country have certainly been interesting ones. I think I have used the word “unprecedented” more in the last month than I have in the previous 3 decades.

But although a lot of things are happening that have never happened before, and there’s more uncertainty than there’s been in a long time. More and more it all makes me incredibly… Thankful.

And I don’t just mean that because so many opportunities have been taken away it makes me thankful for the ones I have and will have again. Although I am thankful for such things.

I also don’t mean thankful in terms of re-defining priorities and being reminded of how important family and friends are to me and how transient other things in our lives can be. Although I am deeply thankful for those I have with me.

I have often complained in the past the news is great at finding the grey lining in every silver cloud, (because that’s what sells papers and viewership.) Social media seems to find the most hurtful and negative things  it can find, and then magnify them to make it sound like it’s rampant. When often it is an isolated incident, event, or idiot. (With the occasional cat video sprinkled in.)

But outside of that media, I can see the biggest difference for me is the most recent weeks have made me  thankful for people in general.  Everywhere I look I see people helping each other. I’ve seen neighbors checking in with each other to make sure they’re ok. I’ve seen restaurants donating meals to those in need. I’ve seen still others buying gift certificates from restaurants and businesses just so they can have some income and can pay their employees. Like most, I haven’t been going to stores much at all, but every time I do I see workers laboring tirelessly to help make available food and necessities as quickly and safely as possible.

My favorite story: My brother-in-law in Northern Michigan is a chef in charge of the food program for Boyne Falls public schools (the whole program is amazing, I’ll post about it sometime.) Because they have a lot of families in need, he’s still preparing meals for kids, some of whom aren’t even in his district! With a team of volunteers he’s preparing hundreds of meals a day, they’ve got a drive-thru set up at the school, and bus drivers are driving routes to deliver meals. They even deliver extra meals on Friday to help families get through the weekend.

Understandably the Boyne Mountain resort, which has several restaurants, and Café Sante’, Northern Michigan’s most popular restaurant, both closed down temporarily. Both companies donated all their food to help the program.  One of Chef Nathan’s biggest problems is figuring out how to feed an abundance of expensive high-end food to school kids! My goodness people are awesome! (But seriously how do you feed a school kid Courgettes?)

And of course I would be completely remiss if I didn’t say how thankful I am for you. Mr. Stanford and I regularly talk about how lucky we are to be working with such amazing families at the academy. I’ve always been thankful for that, but recent events have truly caused me to be blown away.

Candidly, I was worried about how all of this was going to play out. I started this school in 1998 at the age of 23, not long after having spent my nights cleaning floors and teaching my way through college. In all that time the academy has never faced anything like this. Although we have been working very hard to provide value online, I know nothing can take the place of face-to-face instruction. The support we have received from you the families has been overwhelming and has literally brought a tear to my eye more than once (and I’m a tough guy! That doesn’t happen easily!) And in this challenging time, it has allowed me to focus not on “will my academy survive?” but instead on “how I can help others?”

I want to be clear. The above is not meant to guilt anyone into keeping their memberships active. When family income becomes uncertain as it has for so many, I understand  and fully endorse prioritizing money away from our activities. I simply want to express how thankful I am individually, and we are as a staff. You the families, make us want to be better instructors and better people.

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