Ten things to be thankful for this Christmas season
Notwithstanding the somewhat troubled economy, looking out over the fresh snow blanketing Manchester in late fall, there is much for which to be thankful this holiday season.Several events recently have pointed out the special nature of "social capital" here in the Granite State. Certainly, the following list of 10 examples is not exclusive or meant to ignore the many other examples, but these are things for which I and I believe other New Hampshire citizens should be grateful this year:1. Manchester High School Central. Recently, the Bean Foundation had its annual meeting in the library at Manchester Central. Attendees had a chance to tour the facility and see New Hampshire's oldest high school in action. Miracles are happening there every day, and Central continues to send students out into the world to the finest colleges and universities, to employment and it does so in the face of all of the urban challenges facing city schools today.2. Manchester Boys and Girls Club. Riding down Union Street in Manchester, a couple of blocks from Central, the new facilities of the Manchester Boys and Girls Club have risen from the foundation and taken shape. The thousands of young people who would have a significantly less complete life if there were no Manchester Boys and Girls Club, and its alumni, should be proud of the investment in and future of the Boys and Girls Club that continues to be a lifeline for young people in the Manchester area.3. New Hampshire public servants. Elected officials in New Hampshire, especially the 424 citizen legislators, serve diligently, with virtually no pay, and often without thanks. They are public-spirited, generous with their time, and take public policy and the future of their state seriously. Likewise, local officials, executive councilors and all others serving in our largely volunteer government deserve our thanks and admiration.4. New Hampshire's grand hotels. New Hampshire would be diminished greatly if our remaining grand hotels did not exist. It was encouraging in 2009 to have former management restored to The Balsams, the northernmost of these gems. The departure of Pat Corso from the Mount Washington Hotel, having done such a great job restoring it, seemed to be a setback, and the Omni Corporation's arrival will be watched carefully, as the Mount Washington Hotel seems poised for a great future with its renovated facilities. Likewise, Mountain View Grand and Wentworth by the Sea are significant contributors to the hospitality industry and flavor of the Granite State.5. Big Brothers, Big Sisters. The annual fund-raising breakfast of the Manchester area Big Brothers Big Sisters reminded all in attendance of the importance of one-on-one relationships between adults and children who lack adults in their lives. The many stories of contributions made by adults to their little brothers and sisters were heartwarming and also pointed out the "Bigs" get much from the "Littles."6. Easter Seals New Hampshire. Easter Seals, through its early intervention services, Veterans Count program, seniors program and schools for handicapped and emotionally impaired students, as well as other social service agencies - like the Moore Center, to name one other - allow efficient provision of services to less fortunate individuals in New Hampshire and extend their reach beyond our borders. They deserve support and their staffs deserve thanks, since money is an insufficient reward for what they do every day.7. New Horizons for New Hampshire. Homeless people and those unable to feed their families find a place to eat and shelter at the facilities of New Horizons for New Hampshire and its facilities. The constant need for these services is shared by soup kitchens throughout New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Food Bank and other services that provide a safety net for the cold and hungry.8. The Union Leader/Salvation Army Santa Fund. Daily, the support given to this fine annual effort is recounted in the state's largest newspaper, which deserves credit for having sponsored and publicized the effort for so many years. Contributions are used to provide less fortunate people with things they would not have otherwise and deserve our support.9. New Hampshire's colleges and universities. There are many constant reminders of the important contributions to young people, the culture and fabric of society and the economy of this state made by New Hampshire's public and private universities that enrich us every day. We should be grateful for how these institutions, from the smallest of the community colleges to the University of New Hampshire and world-renowned Dartmouth College, enrich us and assure a future for our children and us all.10. Finally, the thousands of individual acts of kindness that are evident at the holiday season can be seen in the efforts in many businesses to collect presents for needy families, conduct food drives or fund-raising efforts and otherwise provide help, usually anonymously, for those in need. Individual acts of kindness are probably the thing for which we should be grateful most of all.Thank you, New Hampshire. Merry Christmas! Brad Cook is a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green and heads its government relations and estate planning groups. He also serves as secretary of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire.