As I write this it is the last day of 2015. Christmas has come and gone and the world is preparing for a celebration of the New Year. Like many I reflect back on the past as I look forward to what a whole new year has in store for me. Probably like you this year was filled with ups and downs. I had to deal with the death of people I knew, watched as friends struggled with health issues, and dealt with my own struggles around work and personal life. However, most of the year is looked back upon as a wonderful year filled with amazing relationships and people. Most of my friendships strengthened. My children have grown and continue to move forward with all of the love their parents can give. They really are thriving. As I watch my two youngest children this morning it occurred to me that they are oblivious to today’s milestone. They could care less its New Year’s eve. What is important to them is their relationships. Going to grandma’s tonight. Seeing their cousins this weekend. Returning to school next week and seeing friends. These are this morning conversation points.

In the Mandt System we focus on building healthy relationships. Our program is used in many places where the people being served today are struggling with issues and challenging behaviors. Many, like my children, oblivious to the fact that today is a milestone in our worlds history. They are concerned about the relationships of the people around them. They are concerned about feeling safe. In many cases, they have very few people who will visit, call or wish them well today. They end their year like many others, simply surviving. It occurred to me today that the difference between surviving and thriving is the depths of our daily relationships. My children are thriving because they are surrounded by parents who love them, family who cares for them, caring teachers to instruct them, and friends they enjoy.

As we move forward into 2016 my prayer is that we will all reach out to those who are surviving. Not simply by giving an end of the year donation or dropping off unwanted items to a shelter now that we have had our Christmas restocking of opulence. I mean purposefully and personally seeking out a relationship with someone who is simply surviving. Inviting them to a meal or activity. Dropping in on a regular basis. Listening to what they need to say. Really and truly building a relationship with someone who needs it more then your left over Christmas spirit. Don’t get me wrong, donations and your dropped off items are needed, so give! They are what many people need to survive. However, don’t forget to give them also your gift of relationship. It is what they need to thrive! May your 2016 be blessed and may you be used to bless others in the New Year!!

Tim Geels – Senior Vice President of Organizational Development