BY JEAN HAYWORTH
life@breckenridgeamerican.com

Semi-retired teacher Karen Wolfe stepped out of the classroom Tuesday to present a program on “The Merits of Gratitude” for the Woman's Forum members and guests.
Vice President Mandi Toombs introduced Wolfe, who has been a first-grade teacher at East Elementary for more than 25 years and just retired from full-time teaching but still keeps her hand in with helping in the Special Education classroom two days a week.
Wolfe called the members' attention to the positive aspects of being grateful. She went on to thank members of the Woman's Forum for teaching her many skills, helping her attain new levels of gratitude and learn new ways of thinking at different stages of her life. She also thanked the woman of the Forum for all they do in the community of Breckenridge.
“We should be more grateful for many little things in our lives that we take for granted instead of being so negative,” said Wolfe. She continued to share items of reinforcement for “gratitude” that she had found on her refrigerator door. Many of the scraps of paper were yellowed and torn pieces of paper with things like, “Everyday is The Best Day of Our Life.” These scraps of paper shared feelings of gratitude for the blessings as well as the hardships and many of God's simple gifts.
“We all should have an attitude of excitement for life each day we rise,” said Wolfe. “Do random ‘Acts of Kindness' regularly until it becomes a habit that you don't even have to think about.”
Additionally, Wolfe said, “it is important to tell a child that he/she is “special” everyday so that they can weather the many challenges that a child faces in their young lives daily. Many children come from dysfunctional homes today. No one is exempt from the daily challenges. That is why it is important to reinforce that feelings of being ‘special' with young, impressionable children.”
“Worrying is a waste of time and that time can be spent more productively praising God for his creation,” said Wolfe. “Being grateful is a state of mind and an attitude that is nurtured by many and ignored by others. It is important to build others up because you have no idea what is working to tear them down. Everyone needs a morale boost periodically. Pay attention to lives around you and be more in tune with individuals you encounter and what challenges they may face on a daily basis.
Wolfe explained how placing a note in her children's lunch each day was such a positive influence for each of them and was remembered long after they had matured as adults and now had children of their own. The gift of gratefulness doesn't have to be purchased to make an impact.
Wolfe went on to encourage all of us to approach life with a grateful heart which is a lifestyle that should be embraced by all of us but many times we fall short but we should all make a conscious choice to be grateful rather than negative. It is hard to complain when a person is grateful for living and rising each morning.
Wolfe also demonstrated how gratefulness was expressed by former students and family with special gifts she had received from them over the years. All the items were memorable and demonstrated the simple feeling of gratefulness by the individual. One item was a simple pottery bowl that was misshaped, painted bright blue but made by the hands of the child to demonstrate how grateful he was to his teacher, a priceless gift that she cherishes.
Wolfe emphasized that a gift to another individual does not have to cost anything and is even more appreciated by the recipient when made or purchased with a grateful heart to demonstrate their appreciation for the recipient in their lives. “It is the thought behind the gift that counts,” said Wolfe.
She went on to talk about the impact a person has on the lives of others, which are often unknown to a teacher, especially.
Also, children should be taught to be grateful with prominent examples in your life as a role-model. Take your child along when you help an elderly person or someone with limitations.
Demonstrate how to be grateful on a daily basis by the way you approach life with a grateful heart.
Wolfe told about a Breckenridge woman who called her son every Thursday night during football season, when he was the quarterback. The woman never told him her name but always expressed how proud she was of him and always talked about the many good things he had done during the game the previous week. She expressed all the positive things a young man needs to hear because she was well aware of the pressures he was under.
What a commitment that woman made. It is unknown who she was and whether she did this for other young men year after year or whether she did it just for Troy, Wolfe's son.
That is a random ‘Act of Kindness' that can not be purchased but was more meaningful than any gift she could have purchased.
Wolfe closed with her definition of ‘real heroes,' who are grateful people who do extraordinary things on a daily basis and never expect any kind of recognition.
She challenged and encouraged each woman to look around them and identify those who have impacted their lives and the lives of others and face life with a grateful heart on a daily basis.
The Marketplace provided the luncheon for the Forum's first meeting of the new year. Hostess chair Jo Kesner and co-chair Zel Roberson helped serve the luncheon along with the help of the hostess committee that included Eva Latham, Julie Herring, Paula Anderson, Helen Kuhn, Cindy Johnson and Willie Maoline.
The door prize was provided by Marie Tennison and was won by Shirley Brandenberger.
Liverpool Rummy and Bridge games were played in the morning and low score winner for Liverpool Rummy was Lynda Justus. High score for Bridge was won by Jacille Smith.
Sharon Wimberley reported on the Forum's Community Project contributions during the summer months and thanked the members for bringing the school supplies for Breckenridge Junior High students for the September meeting.
Forum members contributed to the Open Door facility in Breckenridge with clothes for a first-grade student who had been dumped off at her grandmothers' to be raised by her. Additionally, two boys were helped with a crib and a Pac-and-Play when they landed at their grandmother's home. The boys also received some clothes from the Children's Chest at the First United Methodist Church.
Wimberley also stressed that members could donate or contribute money for the purchase of diapers at the Open Door. Mothers and dads are able to earn “Baby Bucks” by attending classes at the Open Door facility and then can go shopping in the Baby Boutique for needed items for their baby. The amount of diapers a baby requires in todays' world is astounding. Forum members were congratulated on their generosity and encouraged to continue to support the Open Door facility in Breckenridge.