After the changes I’ve experienced this year, I start each day with thoughts of thanks, and it’s the last thing on my mind when I close my eyes at night.

Every day, I am thankful.

After the changes I’ve experienced this year, I start each day with thoughts of thanks, and it’s the last thing on my mind when I close my eyes at night.

I am thankful for having two – not just one – jobs that I am passionate about and look forward to doing, especially at a time when so many people are looking for just one source of income. When the times are tough, I keep them in my thoughts, and I try to find strength in my gratitude.

I am thankful for my beat – Independence City Hall – and all of its challenges and celebrations. Every story I write brings with it a lesson learned. I know it’s a beat that reporters have traditionally worked years and years to earn. I don’t take it lightly – it’s kind of “my baby.”

Lastly, but certainly not least, I am thankful for Lou Anne Crook and Laura Lower in the City Managers’ Office, Sheila Saxton in the City Council’s office and Kim Osborne in the Mayor’s Office at Independence City Hall. One of my favorite professors in journalism school told my Public Affairs Reporting class during my final semester at Kansas State University that we should build strong working relationships with those officials on our beat.

That is a given. But perhaps more importantly, she instructed, build relationships with the officials’ executive assistants. These are the people who can find that little piece of information you need, while on deadline, at the drop of a hat.

Lou Anne and Kim always answer the phone, and if they are away from their desks for a bit (a rarity, believe me – I don’t know when these ladies find time to eat or grab a rest room break!), Laura and Sheila aren’t far away.

To these four ladies: Thank you for always helping me find what I need, whether it’s getting in contact with someone at City Hall or double-checking when and where a meeting is taking place. I probably don’t say it enough, but I am thankful.

For the second year, I sent a call out to all city of Independence employees, asking them to share their messages of thanks with myself, and ultimately, my readers. Here’s what five of them had to say:

Stephanie Mitchell, Water Pollution Control: “I am thankful for my expanding family and the support that they show me. I am also thankful for my job with the city and being in a position where I am a part of helping the community and environment.”

Sharon McKee, utilities customer service supervisor: “With pleasure, I will tell you what I’m thankful for: I was born in the United States, where we have enormous freedom and resources (that) other parts of the world do not have. I have a loving and supporting group of family and friends. I  have a roof over my head. My son has the opportunity to get a good public education. I can worship and pray to God without it costing me or my family our lives. I have a job and good health. I work with good and caring people. I do not have to worry about being exiled or killed due to my political beliefs.

“Many people do not have even one of the above blessings. I celebrate Thanksgiving with complete gratitude.”

Mike Jackson, environmental health supervisor: “I am thankful for my wife, two children and (the University of Kansas) basketball.”  

Peggy Pair, human resources assistant: “I’m thankful that our family has been blessed with a wonderful mom, who will celebrate her 96th Thanksgiving this year, and that she still brings the stuffing, gravy and pumpkin pie.”

Cassie Lopez (department and title unknown): “I am thankful for my daughter, 9-year-old Olivia Perkins, who finds a new way to make me laugh every day!”   

Finally, somewhere in the Eastern Jackson County or greater Kansas City area, a 38-year-old man is thankful for his life – and his guardian angels – following an experience that took place earlier this month.

On the afternoon of Nov. 6, at ALDI’s on 23rd Street, unidentified bystanders provided CPR for the unresponsive man until Independence Fire Department and American Medical Response personnel arrived.

Fire Department Pumper 7 Capt./Paramedic Craig DuPlantis and his crew, Fire Equipment Operator/EMT Lee Kelly and Firefighter/Paramedic Charles Stubbs, along with AMR personnel Paramedic David Roll, Paramedic Kent Richey and EMT Jason Rivera, provided advanced cardiac life support through CPR, defibrillation, IV access, medication therapy and advanced airway control with oxygen for assisted breathing.

The man lived and was taken to Centerpoint Medical Center. On Monday, the City Council awarded the Fire Department, AMR personnel and unidentified citizens with commendation for their efforts.

Maybe you won’t save a life this week, but you can make someone’s day. Hold the door open for someone as you leave the convenience or grocery store. Write a note to an old friend who lives on the other side of the country, letting him or her know that your shared time and memories together are never forgotten. Or, do my favorite form of giving thanks: Just smile.

And lastly, if you do any kind of outside shopping today, or if you see public safety officials or other city employees on the clock, tell them “thank you,” because they are sacrificing time away from family and friends.

Remember, too, that giving thanks doesn’t start or end with today, just one out of 365 days in a year.