This year Harvester asked members to share what they are most thankful for during the holidays. We received more responses than ever before, and we thank everyone who responded.
Several themes stood out. The first was family. Those who are blessed with a close and loving family appreciate this above all else, but faith and country come in a close second and third. Many said they are grateful for their health and for opportunities to grow and serve others.
Here is what our members have to say this year:
From trade associate member Don Harden, AgAmerica Lending’s relationship manager: “I’m thankful that God has given me a big happy family; that I have lived long enough to know my 11 great-grandchildren. I’m thankful to be an American. I’m thankful that I’m healthy enough to be working long after retirement age! But most of all, I’m grateful to have so many friends I can’t even count them all.”
From Maria Olthof of C.H. Robinson: “This year was the last Thanksgiving in our family home since my Mom will be selling. Though it was a sad time, I was thankful for the family being there all together and being able to make our last Thanksgiving in that house very memorable.”
Another C.H. Robinson employee, Rob Symkowick, said, “I’m grateful for friends and family. Throughout the year everyone gets caught up in day-to-day life. The holiday season is a special time when I reflect on the year gone by and am thankful for those around me that make every day special.”
Producer member Rick Roth: “My wife Jeanie and I are so thankful for many things. First that our son Ryan loves farming and running our diversified farming operation. Second, that all three of our kids live in South Florida and our three grandkids live just 20 minutes away. Also, we’re thankful that my oldest daughter, Lindsay, and her pastor husband Jeremy McKeen were able to adopt and take home a baby boy straight out of the hospital 16 months ago because his mom chose life. Finally, that our daughter Ashley is graduating from Nova Southeast with a degree in nursing on December 9 and could live in South Florida. We have an ‘angel’ masquerading as a nurse in the family.”
Kate English, partner at Pavese Law Firm in Fort Myers, also is grateful for family. “This holiday season, I am most thankful for my family (my parents, my sister and her family, and my husband and children), the pleasure of their company and the love that we share. It is a pleasure to shop for their gifts, cook the foods that they love and spend time with them just because we can. In world with so much uncertainty, each year that we have the opportunity to enjoy these simple things together is a blessing to be savored and appreciated.”
Ben Lahr, a member of Class 5 of the Emerging Leader Development Program and Driscoll’s East Coast production specialist – grower liaison: “I am thankful for my family, those that I can hug and talk with and for those who are no longer here.” He added, “I have for a long time found that throughout life I have been thankful for gifts that perhaps even at that time I didn’t know were gifts. I am thankful for being an American; there are so many people who would give all to be so. I am thankful for challenges, as long as I am able to take the opportunity to overcome them.”
Kevin Yue of Lipman Produce and another ELDP Class 5 member, said, “This year, and for the past few years, I have been incredibly thankful for my wife and children, including my third daughter due right before Christmas. Life has only gotten better with them in it. I also am thankful for the ability and opportunity to serve my local and national communities through volunteer work on different levels and giving of my time and energy to causes I care about.”
Also on the topic of serving the community, this from trade associate member Tammie Sanabria, Hillsborough County Economic Development Department: “I am most thankful at this time of year to see people reaching out to help one another. Far too often people in need are overlooked. The holidays help remind people how truly fortunate they are and in doing so it often results in a lot of compassion to help those in need. It warms my heart … Keep paying it forward, folks!”
Brian Phelan, director of Farm Share NE Florida and a trade associate member, would like to thank Florida’s farmers for their work and generosity when it comes to feeding the hungry. “I am grateful for the countless hours that the men and women of Florida agriculture spend growing foods that keep Florida this country strong. During the weekend prior to Thanksgiving we did a food distribution to those in need in Duval County and an elderly woman tearfully approached me. She wanted us to make sure that we thanked the farmer for the beautiful fresh turnips-greens and all, that we gave her (from Blue Sky Farms) because she hadn’t had turnips that looked that good since she was young. She gave me a hug and headed home with her daughter and granddaughter while I raised my eyes to the sky and once again thanked God for farmers and Blue Sky.”
Ron O’Connor of Farm Credit, a trade associate member, had this to say: “I thank God for the privilege of living in the greatest country on Earth and the sacrifices of our military, which has given us the freedoms we enjoy, as well as the American farmer for providing us with the most plentiful, nutritious and affordable food supply in history.”
Longtime producer member David Evans of Nelson & Co. said, “We are thankful for this United States of America and its constitutional provisions and protection where everyone can worship freely and flourish based their God-given talents, skills and effort. For the unbelievable number of opportunities that the free enterprises system provides to so many to choose how they and their communities can thrive and prosper. For those families and companies across this country that create this stability and security. And last but not least, thank you to the FFVA members and staff that do their jobs so well and take their responsibilities so seriously. Merry Christmas and God bless America.”
Ashley Bryant, field representative for trade associate member Harbor America, said, “I am thankful for the food on my table, the clothes on my back and the farmers who make it possible.”
Leigh Ann Wynn of Warner University, another trade associate member, adds: “”Especially during these times, I am so thankful that we are blessed to live in a country where we can freely gather, worship our Savior, and publicly pray without fear of retribution.”
Finally, one last thought from trade associate member Kirk Mugler, Decco U.S. Post Harvest, Inc.: “Grandchildren are what it’s all about!”
FFVA wishes you and your family all the best this holiday season. Have a very merry and meaningful Christmas, and a happy new year!