Thank you: A Commentary from Howard Center CEO Bob Bick

We Should All Do More Thanking.

People underestimate the power of a thank you. When most of us think about writing a thank you note or making a call, we might decide against it. Perhaps we think it won’t mean much to the recipient or that it will make them feel awkward. Or we worry about our ability to find the right words.

But by not offering our gratitude we’re missing out on some real benefits. It turns out that showing gratitude—saying thank you—improves the well-being of both the recipient and the person saying thanks.

Researchers at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business did a series of experiments in which participants wrote letters of gratitude to people who had helped them. The letter writers estimated how the recipients would feel about the letters, and the researchers surveyed the recipients to see if the writers’ expectations were accurate.

You can guess what happened. The letter writers thought the recipients would feel awkward, but it turned out that wasn’t the case. The writers also underestimated how good recipients would feel about receiving the letters. And the recipients were not focused on the exact words that were used or how eloquent the writers were; instead they were thrilled by the gesture. The takeaway? Expressions of gratitude and appreciation make everyone feel good.

At Howard Center we’ve had a great deal to be grateful for over the past year. And so, in the interest of promoting well-being and spreading good feelings, thank you.

Thank you to the 16,000+ clients and families for placing your trust in Howard Center to help you meet your needs.

Thank you to the 1,500+ Howard Center staff members and volunteers who work hard every day to help others.

Thank you to the First United Methodist Church for opening its doors to us while we renovated the kitchen and bathrooms at Westview House, a daytime gathering place for people served by Howard Center. And thank you to the Burlington Community and Economic Development Office for a grant that is helping to fund those renovations.

Thank you to Spectrum for providing a comfortable living space when one of our residential facilities needed repairs, and to Champlain Housing Trust for expediting the repairs so our clients could quickly return to familiar surroundings.

Thank you to the dozens of volunteers who plan and present Zoe’s Race, an inspiring summer event that raises money to improve accessibility in the homes of Howard Center clients.

Thank you to our many vendor and business partners that support Howard Center, in many ways, including at our fundraising events like Zoe’s Race and our Curling Challenge.

Thank you to the state administration and state employees and to all the towns and local governments that contribute to and support Howard Center and especially to every Vermonter whose taxes and charitable contributions support so many of our critical programs offering help and support for so many in our community.

Thank you to the people who come to our community education events, our conference, and our Help is Here event to learn more about the people we serve and the support we provide for them.

Thank you to our trustees who volunteer their time to improve the community; to all the legislators and community leaders who advocate for the people we serve; to the experts who present at our Community Education Series events; to agencies and organizations like the Lund Center, COTS, the Chittenden County Opioid Alliance, the Community Health Centers of Burlington, the Burlington Police, the UVM Medical Center, and so many others that partner with Howard Center.

Thank you for helping to make our community stronger and “Help is here” a reality for so many of our neighbors. For whatever you do to help the people we serve, thank you.

Bob Bick, Howard Center CEO