Thanksgiving--Gratitude of the Heart

When Thanksgiving comes around, I always want to thank people not only for what they did recently, but for a lifetime of giving and a lifetime of kindness to me as well as to others. Although William Arthur Ward died in 1994, his inspirational quotes live on with one of them standing out for me:

"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."

So this Thanksgiving I would like to say thank you to a few people:

Thank you to Jamie Lee Curtis for her genuine goodness in coming to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for so many years and giving of herself to help fund pediatric care and research--and then to support the transplant program. She could have been doing many other things, but she chose to put her heart and soul into a gala…she did all of this on her own dime and also gave donations to the hospital at the Circle of Care level. Her new movie has just been released—Knives Out—and is a comedy thriller with an ensemble cast—about a family gathering gone awry. She’s in it, I am seeing it. She changed the lives of many children here in Pittsburgh. Thank you, Jamie.

Thank you to my friend, George Fechter, who is on the board of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect. He strongly encouraged Roz Markovitz and I to get involved. It is such a wonderful opportunity with an organization that makes an important difference in these times. Hate crimes, anti-Semitism, mass shootings, racism, carefully targeted killings are all surging in alarming ways across the US and many communities beyond. The Anne Frank Center is in the enviable position to expand and amplify their critical mass of expertise to elevate mutual respect and confront issues of prejudice. George is devoted to fundraising that makes a difference and uses his contacts to ensure success…thank you, George, you know how to make a major positive impact with many of us and also with your family.

I want to thank Louis Fox who I met about 10 years ago when he generously gave a gift to launch the Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration at Eye and Ear Foundation. Louis inspired many other donors to give as well and this was an important stepping-stone in the history of our medical community. Louis’ eyesight may not be the sharpest, but his insight is legendary. He is the first to volunteer to attend a gala, the first to be part of a symposium on vision, and the first to stand up for staff members who work on projects that he funded. Louis has been so supportive of my new business and of me in so many ways that no amount of thanks seems to be enough. And his humor and determination are palpable in all that he does. Thank you, Louis, for making life so interesting for me.

I want to thank Rosalyn Markovitz, my friend and associate, for more than 40 years. Even when the chips are down, Roz never gives up. She is dedicated, determined and remarkable optimistic. As tired as she might be at times, lying in bed, she can call me with some new thoughts on prospects we should pursue or a new take on an existing problem. She is relentless in her determination to help others—even if they don’t know they need help! Roz has been Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year in Pittsburgh’s past and she remains tops in my heart as a good friend and partner in all important initiatives. Thanks, Roz, now and for all the things we will do in the future together.

To my friends from Holy Innocents School, I want to say thanks for all that you do for me and for each other. Who would have known that more than 50 years after we went to school with one another we would still get together, send birthday cards, make each other’s favorite foods, give thoughtful gifts, talk so much and reach out to each other when things get challenging. Sometimes we hold each other up and sometimes we lean on each other. Thanks to all of you for all that you do!

I want to thank my sisters, Carol, Donna and Joann, and my brother, Ralph, for all of their support and encouragement over the years. Sometimes they were not too sure about me, I feel certain of that! They are proud of me now as I am of them. If you ever have the chance to go to NY and spend a holiday, my sisters are the ones with whom you should travel. They have a knack for finding great restaurants, the best Broadway plays, and interesting shopping areas. And many times through the days they do things that are designed to say: Now you know I love you. Thanks to each of them for being my best friends—it’s enough to know that they are standing by.

If my parents were alive, Carl and Henrietta Tissue, I would be calling them every day thanking them for what they have given me. Life and hope, perseverance, a room of my own, education, brownies when my mother knew I was discouraged, rides to work in the morning, encouragement when I felt I wasn’t being paid the right amount of money. Golfing with my dad was wonderfully memorable. They didn’t just to this for me, but for all of us. Through what they did for others, they also instilled a sense of philanthropy in all of us. Even though they have both been dead for more than 20 years, even now I sometimes grab the phone thinking I will call one of them to tell them something. That’s the impact they had.

Thanks to my daughter, Eleanora, for all the special times that she brought us. We have had 26 years of sheer happiness with her. She will always stand out as someone who I admire and treasure and even from a distance she cares about us and what we are doing every day. As for my husband, Yiannis, he couldn’t be more wonderful to both of us—much of this is shown in the care he takes every day preparing special foods and filling our house with beautiful music. While he knows how much I appreciate him, it seems right to thank him on this particular week of Thanksgiving.

Finally, thanks to all of my friends, extended family members, former colleagues through many years of work, generous donors who are not specifically mentioned here, board members, organizational leadership, physicians and scientists with whom I got to work and who enriched my life in so many ways--and so many others.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

The miracle is this--the more we share, the more we have. Leonard Nimoy

Please enjoy this slideshow of my husband, Yiannis Kaloyeropoulos', food.

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1643 Biltmore Lane, Pittsburgh, PA 15217


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