A Story of Gratitude

Written by Chad Thomack
    Wednesday, 12 November 2014
A Story of Gratitude

This story is one of gratitude, one I hope all our volunteers will have the chance to read.  I share this story with you today because I feel so thankful for all that our volunteers do for the Center.  If you are a volunteer, please feel free to share it with other volunteers!

It was late summer. My family and I were at the Walworth County Fair (one of the best in my opinion) enjoying all the cute animals. Watching my 4-year old daughter get so excited to pet a rabbit or to see a baby pig brings a huge smile to my face. Being a father, I am so grateful to have these opportunities to watch her grow and develop into a young girl.

After exiting the pens it is always smart to wash your hands. This is where the heart of this short story lies. The bathrooms at the Fair are nothing special, but good enough. The one thing they do have are bathroom greeters; you know, the people that give you a hello, a smile, a towel and if you take the time to listen, a story. I happened to just mention the humid weather we were having and soon this bathroom greeter was sharing with me that he hails from the south and this is comfortable weather for him. He continued to share that he took this (sometimes thankless) job because he wanted to travel the country, but did not have the money. I thought, "Wow, this guy is willing to clean bathrooms just to see Wisconsin?" He is following his passion (I wonder if it would be more powerful to say, "Now that is someone dedicated to following his passion!").

In that moment and without hesitation I decided I was going to try and make this guy's day that much brighter, so I gave him a $10 tip. It may mean that I don't get to have that second helping of Wisconsin fried cheese curds or a pork chop on a stick, but it was worth it to see his face and get that warm feeling inside, doing good for someone. When I shared this story with my family they replied, "You did what?" I explained how grateful I am to have what I have in my life and that this was just a small gesture to the world, expressing that gratitude and, like I mentioned, doing something selfless and out of the blue really warms the soul.

Fast forward to a few hours later when I was carrying my daughter through the midway by all the carnival games. She wanted all the stuffed toys she saw but I know that they would just get added to the collection we have at home. She was not too disappointed and we carried on. Soon after, an older couple stopped us and asked Kendall if she wanted a plush zebra they won and had no use for. Kendall's eyes sparkled with excitement as she accepted the gift and shared a sincere "Thank you" (without my prompting). I heard the couple say that it was the best $10 they had ever spent and I thought to myself, "I had that same experience earlier today". I could not believe how quickly that show of gratitude came back to me. It brought a tear to my eye and again this burst of heat to my heart.

2014-04-22 17.33.42When you show appreciation for one another, positive energy is passed from one to another and the accumulated affect is amazing. So I share this story with you today because I also feel so thankful for all that our volunteers do for the Center. You all do so much! Really, without the volunteers we would not be able to accomplish as much as we do. We might not say it every time we see our volunteers, but they should know we are all so grateful for the time, stories, and expertise they share with us. I encourage you to come and volunteer with us. I bet you won't leave disappointed.  Thanks again to all you volunteers and we look forward to seeing you soon!

For more information about volunteer opportunities, contact Marissa at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (interim volunteer coordinator while Meghan is enjoying her new gift of a baby boy!) or visit our website at www.urbanecologycenter.org

Chad Thomack

Chad Thomack

Chad Thomack, Environmental Educator, has been a staff member of the Urban Ecology Center for over 15 years.  Chad received a biology/wildlife degree from UW Stevens Point and has been teaching about nature ever since.  His hobbies include outdoor adventures like kayaking, mountain biking, trail running and cross country skiing, as well as exercising, reading, playing video games, journaling and gardening.


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