Tag Archives: gratitude

International Volunteer Day

A note from a dear stranger, a distant friend*, on the other side of the globe, gave a reminder to acknowledge local heroes on this International Volunteer Day (IVD).

This is a day to celebrate those who make a difference in their communities around the world.  We applaud you – Whether you save lives by donating blood, donate hours in service to causes in your area, work toward local, national, or global change, or simply expand your kindness footprint daily in personal ways to uplift others around you. It matters.

The 2016 IVD theme is #GlobalApplause: Give Volunteers a Hand.  We applaud our members and our partner organizations for their commitment to making a difference, such as the Central Florida Freethought Community for adopting a park and supporting the STEM Toy Drive. & blood drive this coming Saturday. THANK YOU for the impact you have through volunteerism and through the kindness you share. You make the world a better place!

From the United Nations:

On IVD, we not only celebrate volunteerism in all its facets – but also pay special tribute to people’s participation in making a difference locally, nationally and globally. IVD highlights the contribution of volunteers in engaging people from the grass-roots in decision-making processes, ultimately creating space for participation that leads to: stronger governance, social cohesion, peace and sustainable development.

On 5 December join us in recognizing the commitment of all volunteers, and applaud hundreds of millions of people who volunteer to make change happen.

* That note came from John Iriri, leader of the Blood Donor Community in Kenya, who has been a treasured connection in the network of blood donor advocates around the world and a hero to many.  Thank you, John, for your continued leadership, inspiration, and encouragement!  Follow his donor community’s lifesaving journey on twitter, @DonorCC




Gratitude Beyond Belief

What did you do for Thanksgiving?  What were the most inspiring moments? What was the most beautiful thing you saw? What will stay with you? For what were you grateful?

Here are some thoughts from BE. Orlando’s founder.  If you’re so inclined, click play on TJ’s video below & listen while you read.  🙂

What did you do for Thanksgiving…

A visit to Cedar Key, a city more beautiful than ever only months after Hurricane Hermine. It was uplifting to feel the strength of their community and connect with old, new, and furry friends.  The first sight when entering town was the wagging of a familiar tale, followed by a slobbery greeting from the pirate pup and a warm welcome from his family – and so began a beautiful weekend.

The town was exactly as expected. Glimpses of the hurricane’s devastation were around to be seen, but the sparked spirit of community and determination to rebuild and thrive were the most evident remnants of Hermine. It is a reflection of the inner strength of humanity. Every face that passes us each day has endured the storms of personal losses and devastation, and has overcome.  The strength of the Cedar Key community is a potential in each person we meet, and in each of us.

What were the most inspiring moments…

1126-90-low-key-evening-9A bonfire concert in a sea-side garden. Everyone singing to the tunes of Houston Keen, young musician from Chiefland, and enjoying the warmth of the fire as the cool front started blowing in.  Houston played a set of favourite covers and some originals.  When asked to play his favorite song to perform, he stunned us with a touching song called “Sleeping in his Dress Blues.”  It was unexpected and touching; a beautiful surprise.  Wondering what personal meaning that song had for him added to the depth of the moment.  There was not a dry eye in the garden.  With the next song he lifted us back up, but he had stopped us all in time for one song that was not only touching in itself, but also a reminder that every face we see has the stories of a life’s journey behind it.

What was the most beautiful thing you saw…

1126-38-flight22-smallOh, the view. Sunsparkles on the water, playful dolphins, soaring birds, spectacular sunrises & sunsets. The most awesome view, though, is from the sky.  The clam farms by Dog Island, the beautiful sands on McCrary Cove at North Key, the peaceful town below. And the dynamic topology of the sandbars around the islands, so different every time – especially after the recent storm. As a kayaker who loves to wander out to sandbars & private beaches, those flights are also kindle dreams of future adventures (and places to nap in the sun).

There were two teenage girls that rode with us – one had never flown before, and neither had ever been in a small plane before. But through the flight, they were in their phones. They’ll never get that moment back – so sad that they missed the experience. One thing i love about that town is the rarity of digital zombies; mostly, people there connect with one another and are present. It is nice to see people talk to each other and look up and around when they walk.

There are beautiful things around us. We can only see them if we are present.

What will stay with you…

1125-20_terry-daily-grindOne of the new stores in town, a coffee shop called the 1842 Daily Grind & Mercantile, is run by Terry and Martin. The place was amazing – beautifully laid out, unique decor (even a record player playing records!), amazingly artistic and delicious food, and great coffee.  They are very passionate about the coffee!  🙂

The day they were to open was the day Hurricane Hermine hit.  That means they had invested time and resources to make the shop perfect for its opening day – and it was destroyed by the flood.  Grief over the loss was no match for strength of character: within weeks they had picked up the pieces, cleaned the destruction, and re-created their dream. Their example of what inner strength means will stay with me.

They weren’t the only ones –  Bonish Studio (the new adventure of old CDK friends Pat and Cindy Bonish), and other businesses were similarly impacted, and rebuilt with resilience and courage. A trip to this place is always inspiring and a perfect place of peace for re-charging; this time, it was so much more.

For what were you grateful…

Cedar Key, for its community and for the beauty of the nature around it, and my great fortune to be able to visit there. The warmth and welcome from Cedar Key friends.  Catching a surprise TJ Brown concert, and for the garden concert by Houston Keen. The ability to appreciate the beauty around us, and the reminder of how important a lifestyle of gratitude and connectivity really is.  Beyond Cedar Key – just too much to list; life is a beautiful challenge. And it passes so quickly; how we invest every moment matters.  I’m grateful for that awareness, for the journey of life, and for connections to others.

live-gratitudeRemember that the best expression of gratitude is action.  I hope for all of us that we have come away from our Thanksgiving reflections with a renewed sense of purpose.

How will you incorporate gratitude into your daily actions?

If you are in Central Florida seeking a positive Humanist community  committed to make a difference together, visit our free member site.




Thanksgiving 2016

Thanksgiving Reflection 2016

We’re grateful not only for the good in our lives, but for our ability to improve the lives of others. Remembering that the holidays are difficult times for many, recognize and increase the ways that you uplift those around you every day.

The stories behind every face would surprise us. Have you taken the time to talk to and learn about someone who wouldn’t normally be in your spheres of interconnection? Have you ever looked at everyone around you in a store and wondered about their families, histories, losses, and the difference that they’ve made for others?

Compassionate connection to others is a skill we need to continually work at developing.  I remember the story of my mother trying to get to the hospital to be at my father’s side for his last breath, and how my brother drove to get her there. No courteous driver awards for him that day. When someone cuts us off in traffic, are we quick to anger, or do we focus on keeping everyone safe?   In our reactions to the world around us, are we coming from a place of judgement and egocentricity, or are we concerned with the well-being of others? Wherever we are on that variable scale, today we can be better – and tomorrow, even better.

live-gratitudeWe can tell how grateful we truly are by how we act; the clearest expression of gratitude is kindness. There are many ways you can expand your kindness footprint. Donations and drives fill needs in our communities; outreach and advocacy inspire an informed public to act; and daily human kindness connects us to others. I have an autistic friend with a talent for making every baby smile.  He can calm a wild tantrum in a store – how’s that for a superpower?  What’s YOUR superpower?

This Thanksgiving, let’s make a commitment together: we’re going to make the world a better place by valuing our own empowerment to do good for others, and putting gratitude into action through both random and intentional acts of kindness.

Are you in?



World Gratitude Day 2016

Thankfully, World Gratitude Day is here!

Please join us in these reflections:  What are you grateful for? ♦  How has gratitude impacted your life? ♦  What does gratitude mean to you?  ♦  For you, what is the relationship between your life in gratitude and your life in service – how does your gratitude inform your positive impact on the world? ♦  How does gratitude inform your communication style? ♦  What are some of the specific ways that gratitude manifests in your daily life?

World Gratitude Day is celebrated annually on the 21st of September, encouraging individuals and organizations to celebrate the broad meaning of gratitude.

Gratitude is a ubiquitous human emotion or state of awareness shared by those of all faith and non-faith perspectives. From the perspective of Humanism, it is also the habit of routine thoughtfulness and mindful living that includes creating  meaningful, personal traditions to honor others and ourselves.  It means identifying and appreciating goodness in our lives and thinking about how that goodness informs our daily actions, human connections, and community engagement.  Humanist gratitude is appreciation without expectation; recognizing that there is no supernatural being selectively giving privilege and advantage to some humans over others, we can have a genuine appreciation for the world and our connection to that world. This helps us evaluate our responsibility to give back.  Gratitude, after all, is best expressed through action.


The celebration began in  1965  in Hawaii  at a Thanksgiving dinner for the United Nations Meditation Group hosted by its director, Sri Chinmoy.  He proposed a globally unifying holiday to formally express gratitude and appreciation for the many wonderful things to be found around the world.  Each attendee pledged to hold a gratitude gathering each September 21 in their own country.  The United Nations Meditation Group formally celebrated World Gratitude Day on September 21, 1977 at the New York Headquarters where Sri Chinmoy was honored for his work.  Since its beginnings World Gratitude Day has been observed in many countries around the world.

International Day For Gratitude

The awareness of the benefits of having time in one’s life for gratitude, appreciation, and positive reflection have become increasingly apparent. The hope of the founders of Gratitude Day is that by taking time, one day a year, to reflect on the many amazing things we have in our lives, it would positively impact our well-being and make us happier, more contended people.


Our 5th Anniversary!

We celebrate this milestone with gratitude for each moment invested in volunteerism and for every person who puts caring into action to make a difference in our community. What you do MATTERS. Thank you to everyone who has supported and been a part of our efforts over the past five years!

BE. Orlando is about fostering a positive social network of diverse, service-engaged individuals ; but we are more than that.

220px-secularhumanismlogo3dpriderainbowcolorsFounded on September 2, 2011, by Atheists with a vision of community, service, and friendship, BE. Orlando has evolved into a resource for secular and Humanist individuals in central Florida, a place of building bridges across differences for people of all faith and non-faith worldviews, and an advocate for the truth that kindness and compassion are human potentials transcending faith and non-faith. Visible, active, contributing volunteers who live fulfilling lives of positive humanism negate harmful myths about morality and meaning being predicated on service to God.

As the secular demographic in America continues to rise, so does the need for relevant perspective-specific resources and communities to serve that population. One of the most-hated and misunderstood identities, those of non-faith face marginalization, discrimination, and bullying.  Sometimes subtle; often isolating, always harmful. Regional, state, and national resources are available to help.  And right here in Central Florida there are secular organizations providing support, hope, opportunity, and community for individuals of non-faith.  You are not alone.

 Join our journey.


The core values of Service, Gratitude, and Inclusiveness will guide BE. Orlando into the adventure of the next years.  We will continue to cultivate a connected community that fosters acceptance, inclusion, and positive living.   We hope to see you on the journey – join us!

  • Involvement opportunities – join us for volunteering, educational events, and partner events with other organizations in the secular network.
  • Leadership opportunities – BE part of the leadership team – host events, advise and steer our mission and services, or grow our partnerships.





Today we are grateful for those who have given their time and resources to make the world a better place. We also highlight a call to action: there is a need for acts of compassion that alleviate suffering. More than 130 people around the world live in crisis and need humanitarian efforts in order to survive.  Right here in our community, 1 in 6 Central Floridians struggle with hunger. Did you know that the Coalition for the Homeless shelters an average of 200 children a night?  In the words of Edward Bok, “Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful for having lived in it.”  Whose life will you impact today?

Plan a service project this weekend, donate blood, join a volunteer group, or just take some time to learn about hunger, homelessness, domestic violence, and other issues in our community and around the world and consider how YOU can make a difference.

World Humanitarian Day celebrates the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the globe.  It recognizes those who face danger and adversity in the service of others as well as the local heroes who commit their lives, or a portion of their lives, to humanitarian efforts.

Post thoughts, support, and stories to #SHAREHUMANITY

Humanism vs. Humanitarianism

When we talk about Humanism, we focus on the ethical worldview that humans have the potential to be good without belief in the supernatural and that we have a duty to be a positive, contributive member of society. While that is an essential topic in our culture, today we celebrate Humanitarianism, which focuses solely on the moral imperative of kindness and compassion being extended to ALL human beings equally, and often acknowledges a sacrifice on the part of the person giving.

World Humanitarian Summit

The first United  Nations World Humanitarian Summit was held this past may with more than 9,000 participants representing 173 States, 55 Heads of State and Government, and thousands of citizens and NGO representatives.  Read more:  Website | Chair’s Summary
They focused on five key issues:
  1. Political leadership to end conflict
  2. Uphold the norms that safeguard humanity
  3. Leave no one behind.
  4. Change people’s lives: from delivering aid to ending need
  5. Invest in Humanity





Volunteers ROCK the menu at SafeHouse

August 10, 2016

The second Wednesday chef team had a great time preparing roasted chicken, potatoes, mushroom gravy and quinoa, salad, rolls, fruit tray, Doritos & dip tray, steamed veggies, and a VERY popular dessert of dirt cakes and cupcakes.

Thanks everyone!

We couldn’t help but notice that we only have one more month before we start the holiday dinner series – Oct (Halloween theme), November (Fall Festival), and the December holiday dinner.  Holidays already?  Bring it!