THANKS and GIVING

"We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill

Two weeks ago, I was in the Bay Area performing some bridge inspections and my assistant inspector for the week was an engineer of foreign birth, currently working out of Canada. With Thanksgiving Day around the corner, I was eventually asked what the celebration was all about.  After an explanation worthy of a children's book about a harvest celebration between the New England Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors who had made possible their survival in the harsh wilderness, I summed it all up by simply stating that the holiday was a day to be grateful and recognize the help we've received through our lives.

America is not the only country that celebrates gratitude with a feast.  All around the world are examples of similar traditions that place value and importance on giving thanks. To name a few: Pongal is an annual Hindu harvest festival in India to give thanks and celebrate their Sun God; Yurya, celebrated in Belarus, gives thanks to their god of spring for protection and health of their crops; the South American country of Chile shows their gratitude to Mother Earth during Anata, by performing thanksgiving rituals, by respecting nature, and living in harmony with those around them.  (Disclaimer – the internet told me about the aforementioned cultures and I take responsibility only for repeating what it said).

As noted around the globe, being thankful is part of being human.  However, 'thanks' is only part of the holiday we call Thanksgiving.  'Giving' should also be part of our human nature.  Generally when someone does something kind to us, we want to return the favor. Charles Dickens is credited with saying, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” I believe this. As civil engineers, we have the good fortune of working in a profession that generally gives back to society, and we are constantly looking for a better, more efficient way to solve the problems that beset our communities.

But I believe we can give a little more, and a little more directly.  When we do so, it means more too.  Consider the holiday greeting card you receive in the mail from a friend of days past.  It's nice that they thought of you enough to send it, but doesn’t it take on a different meaning if they took the time to add a small hand-written note, specifically addressed to you? Small, seemingly insignificant acts of giving prompt an even deeper form of gratitude from those receiving.

Offered in this month's newsletter are two unique ways that you can give.  The first is by contributing personally or corporately to the Golze Scholarship fund.  Every year in February, the Sacramento Section awards scholarships to deserving engineering students from the four surrounding ASCE university student chapters.  Last year alone, $40,000 was awarded!  But our goal this year is even loftier: $100,000.  Will you please consider being a part of that success in giving to the future generation of engineers? 

The second way to give is thru an ASCE Project Award Nomination.  Most of us find joy in the work we perform on a daily basis, and most of us also like to be recognized when we complete a noteworthy project in our own backyard.  But these projects cannot be praised if the Section does not know about them.  You can find an online nomination form or download the form on the Section's homepage (http://asce-sacto.org/form).  Remember, the deadline for submissions is December 19th. We look forward to reviewing all the wonderful projects going on in our area and giving back to you.

Our nation's harvest feast is now past us, but I hope we are not past remembering THANKS, and looking for opportunities of GIVING.  Happy Holidays and Happy Engineering! Thank you and please let us know your thoughts at: asce@asce-sacto.org

Sincerely,

Kyle Sanford