Religions and Spirituality

Four Generations of Family, Community Support, and Being Alive: Reasons for Thanksgiving Gratitude

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Bernardsville's Katie Meyler (in hat) sings "You are My Sunshine" to six-year-old Mercy in Liberia in West Africa. Mercy lost her parents and grandparents to the ebola virus, and now calls Katie "mom." Katie raised funds to start a school for girls in Liberia through her More Than Me foundation. The school is temporarily closed while the region struggles to cope with and halt the spread of ebola, but Katie has remained with her girls. Credits: Courtesy of More Than Me. org
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Ruth Lufkin, Bernards Township Library Director, in her office downstairs at the library at 32 S. Maple Ave., in Basking Ridge. Credits: By Linda Sadlouskos
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Hank Barre, director of development for the Basking Ridge-based Trilogy Repertory Co., at last summer's Plays in the Park at the outdoor amphitheater at Pleasant Valley Park in Basking Ridge. Credits: By Linda Sadlouskos
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Stacia McDonough collects warm items of clothing to deliver each holiday season to veterans living at the Veterans Administration facility in the Basking Ridge section of Bernards Township. Credits: Courtesy of Stacia McDonough
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BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ - What will you be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day?

We asked some local people to give us answers to that question, and to reflect on what they feel gratitude for this Thanksgiving, either on a personal or community level.

More answers will be posted next week.

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Katie Meyler, Bernardsville and Liberia: Katie Meyler spent years working with individuals and organizations such as churches in the Somerset Hills (including many from Basking Ridge) and beyond to fulfill her dream of opening a tuition-free school for girls in Liberia in West Africa. After winning a $1 million Chase Bank American Giving Award in December 2012, her More Than Me foundation opened the school about a year later. However, the school closed in August 2014 as the ebola virus invaded the area. Katie remains in Liberia, and More Than Me now is devoted to helping the girls and other families to survive and thrive as the battle to overcome ebola continues. The More than Me website is at https://morethanme.org/about-us.html. She sent this email from Liberia this week, addressing the question of what she will be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

"This Thanksgiving I'm first and foremost thankful I am alive, my family is alive. This means more to me than usual being surrounded by so much death. Then I'm thankful that I got the opportunity to chose what I wanted to do with my life and I get to be here in Liberia working on something that really matters to me. Something worth risking my life for. I'm grateful for every single thing I've been given, from where I'm from and I will use everything the best that I can to do as much good as possible."

Ruth Lufkin, Basking Ridge: Ruth Lufkin, also a Basking Ridge resident, is director at the Bernards Township Library, having previously served in other positions at the library.

"I am very thankful that my family is gathering to celebrate Thanksgiving: We will have my mother-in-law, who is 85, and her second great-grandchild, just four months old. That's a lot to be thankful for.

"On the community level, I'm grateful that the community continue to assist us in finding ways for showing their love of reading, no matter what the format may be, and for the sharing of services with the community. Reading is alive and well...There's a resurgence of the concept of a library as a shared-services community gathering place for people."

Henri "Hank" Barre, Basking Ridge: Hank Barre, together with his wife, Jaye, have contributed decades of drama to the township's arts scene and community organizations through their Basking Ridge-based Trilogy Repertory Co. Hank Barre is director of development for Trilogy, which has for the past 30 years staged drama each summer at the annual Plays in the Park presented at Pleasant Valley Park's amphitheater in cooperation with the Bernards Township Department of Parks and Recreation. Trilogy also brings childrens' theater to area libraries, and also presents other dramatic stagings throughout the year.

"I'm grateful for the arts in general, especially the performing arts, and for the wonderful support from the community here in Basking Ridge - including the [Bernards Township] recreation department that sponsors our Plays in the Park, and the various organizations and churches. Everyone seems willing to pitch in and give us a hand when we need it. And I'm grateful to the audiences that come."

Stacia McDonough, Bedminster: McDonough, the widow of a Vietnam veteran, each holiday season collects warm winter clothing for previously homeless veterans living at the Lyons Campus of the Veterans Administration New Jersey Health Care System off Valley Road in Basking Ridge. She also is a member of the Hope For Veterans Leadership Committee.

"When I see our heroes at the Hope For Veterans facility in Lyons, I am reminded how I am thankful for America the beautiful, from glorious sea to shining sea, and for our amazing veterans who bravely fought for the freedoms that make this blessed country so remarkable. I am also thankful for all the exceptionally kind volunteers who make the annual winter clothing and food drive, (They Kept Us Safe, Let's Keep Them Warm, which benefits our awesome veterans), such a tremendous success. I am thankful for the incredible outpouring of generosity and compassion from the fine individuals in our community who donate and make possible this most worthwhile campaign. God bless America."

Please let us know what you are thankful for this year by commenting on the TAP into Basking Ridge Facebook Page.

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