November is gratitude month – at least for me.

John Oppenheim, Air Force Veteran

As a veteran who served many years ago and was lucky enough to be doing so in peacetime, I am grateful for those who were not as lucky and had to go to war.  Veterans Day was just another day off for me when I was in the corporate world.  In the past few years, however, our country has decided to honor veterans in a way that is truly respectful of all of us who served and especially those who sacrificed either their lives or came back and have had to live with what they experienced.

I am personally grateful that I found a retirement gig that included working with veterans at Century Villages, which included forming the CityHeART Veterans Council.  We are now part of an amazing organization led by Paige Pelonis, who founded CityHeART along with Izzy Matos.  We have been given a platform and the opportunity to give back to our fellow veterans who have not been so lucky.

Moving on, as a senior, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work with the newer generations, especially those who have asked to volunteer at their schools to work with us at CityHeART.  I remember my parents’ generation complaining about our lack of ambition, our clothing, and how we didn’t respect them.  It’s good to know that things haven’t changed.  If you feel that the younger generation just doesn’t care, please visit us at CityHeART and meet some of those students.  They are dedicated, smart, and much more aware of our society than I was.

Finally, Thanksgiving wraps it up. Back when I was heavy and working 50 – 60 hours per week, it was a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of the world in which I operated.   Also, I could stuff myself and watch football all in the same day.  I also participated in all the “let’s thank” discussions and meals.

Today, Thanksgiving takes on a different meaning for me. For the past eight years I have been volunteering at Century Villages and for the past three years, my wife and I have volunteered with CityHeART to serve meals to the residents.  I consider it a privilege to be able to do this.  I know many of the residents after so many years there, and but for some luck in my life, I could be one of those residents. I never forget that.

So, I love November for a lot of reasons and the biggest of all is that I get to express my gratitude on a continual basis.  I hope you celebrate these holidays in the same spirit and you have a wonderful holiday season.  Thank you for reading this.

By John Oppenheim, Air Force Veteran & CityHeART Veterans Council Co-Founder

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