Margaret Nelson: View From the River – It’s time to celebrate

  • Margaret Nelson

Published: 6/21/2022 9:02:41 AM

This month, I am attending the 50th anniversary party for my brother and his wife. What?! Granted, he is my big brother, but how can I possibly have a brother who has been married for 50 years? 

It is making me think about celebrating, and how good it is to take time to celebrate. In June, there are many big occasions to celebrate. Graduations are wonderful times to cheer on the graduates for their accomplishments, whether from preschool or high school or medical school. Weddings bring together friends and family to celebrate the couple and their commitment. Anniversary parties celebrate the longevity of those commitments. Family reunions give us more cause to celebrate, as we come together with loved ones old and young, retell the old stories and create new memories. And then we have celebrations of life, a different occasion, but celebratory nonetheless. 

Years ago, someone asked me what I celebrated in the context of my work here at The River Center. I had to stop and think. At the time I was worrying more than celebrating. Worrying about funding, worrying about the programs we were running, how the community viewed The River Center. Were we making a difference in this community? What do we do about the ice dam over the men’s room, or the flooding in the parking lot (at our former location)? So many worries and concerns.

So this question of what did I celebrate? That made me dig. What indeed?

I made a decision that we/I needed to change our ways. We started including a moment of celebration on the agenda for every staff meeting and every board meeting. What are we excited about in our work and in our life? A cute response from a child, a parent’s happy news, a thank you note from a taxpayer.

So let me take a few moments and celebrate all things River Center with you. I celebrate that a single mom had her taxes done at The River Center this spring. The car needed repairs, among a long list of issues that needed to be dealt with, all involving money. Her taxes were completed and she walked away with over $9,000 in tax credits and refunds. She burst into tears of relief and joy. I celebrate that a grandmother who is raising her grandchild can get dental work done because of funding we have received for the Kinship program. I celebrate that we had so many families stop by The River Center table at Children and the Arts day.

I celebrate that parents and caregivers with babies can meet every Monday morning to make friends, learn about their baby’s development and laugh with others. I celebrate that Tuesday mornings, the Summer Explorers gather. I celebrate that Wednesdays are for Families, Forests and Farms. And then we have See the Able, Not the Label on the first and third Wednesday evenings. Our home-visiting program is providing one-on-one support for families. And so many benefit from being connected to local resources and services.

All these programs are possible because of the staff, board and donors of The River Center. The staff cares about this community and the individuals and families that they serve. The board volunteers their time, energy and skills for the same reason. The donors want to support this work in our community. There is a unity of purpose that is cause for celebration. 

So thank you for allowing me to share my reasons to celebrate. I hope that you too will find many reasons to celebrate as we enter this beautiful summer season.

Margaret Nelson is executive director of The River Center in Peterborough.

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