Gratitude 2022 – Review of A Year in Service

To our Trustees, Supporters, Volunteers and Friends,

We would like to take this opportunity, as the year comes to a close, to reflect on the wonderous acts of kindness that is – the magic of Gratitude and thank our amazing volunteers and supporters for making a difference to our wonderful community.

We are blessed with a team of over 40 volunteers, who give up their time to serve the community, and to make a difference to those in need. We have established several groups within Gratitude, and we would like to celebrate some of their many achievements.

Honoring the late Queen Elizabeth II

In June, we celebrated the late Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee. Our Gratitude Creative Club placed an entry in the Borehamwood Flower Festival. A beautiful floral display of the Queen’s Corgi together with crocheted flowers and flags was set up in the local church to honour the late Queen. Our kids were entertained at the Kid’s corner with activities and prizes.

The trustees and volunteers were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of her late majesty Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022 and paid homage to her 70 years’ service and reflected on the service our amazing volunteers given to the community on her behalf.

Gratitude plays host to local businesses and dignitaries

We were delighted to invite various members of the community, business, and local dignitaries to the Gratitude hub during 2022. From the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, the Mayor of Hertsmere and various local councilors, religious leaders, businesses, schools, and charity representatives. Our volunteers always make sure our visitors are made welcome and we thank them for their support in the run up to these events.

Community Volunteering

We are fortunate to have secured charity commitments from our new neighbours Sky Studios Elstree North. Furthermore, we have been inundated with support from local businesses with volunteering days, help with the development of the Gratitude Community Kitchen, support for the community at Christmas through donation boxes, school assemblies and donation drops to the Hub seven days a week. Being based in Borehamwood, we are in the heart of TV and film production and are commonly in receipt of props and costumes. It’s amazing what one can find in our donation bundles, and we always find a good home for each, and every item donated!

Supporting Communities

Following on from the disruption caused by the unrest in Ukraine in February, we were inundated with donations to support our local Ukrainian families housed in the local area. The community responded positively, and we were glad to be a central hub for donations and fulfil their requirements.

Sadly, in August, some of our residents were made homeless due to a fire in their apartments. Gratitude was asked by local councilors to help co-ordinate the relief response. The Gratitude hub became one of the central points for donations, and our fantastic volunteers stepped up to support families who sadly lost everything.

Local shops and businesses together with donations from families helped to support these families who lost their home and everything they held dear. We are still in touch with the families who are now being re-housed and support them in any way we can.

Several multi-faith Mitzvah day projects were launched in November, in the spirit of community we planted bulbs in public spaces around Borehamwood. With support from local councilor Dan Ozarow, we launched “Sowing the Seeds of Love” project which was a huge success, and we look forward to reaping the rewards from our labour in the spring.

Supporting schools, nurseries, hospital staff, and key workers

Gratitude has links with our local hospitals, the fire station, care homes, schools and nurseries and we find time to share our surplus household cleaning products and toiletries with the hard-working staff who keep our services going. For Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, and Christmas we make sure we take gifts and goodies to our essential key workers. We would humbly like to thank all our fantastic angels for their service to the community.  

Funding news

In October we were delighted to announce, we had secured National Lottery funding towards a new refrigerated van which has proven to be reliable and essential to maintain food hygiene and safety. The funding from the National Lottery Community Fund towards this much needed vehicle, provides the essential tool for grocery distribution via our hub, and not only serves our growing community, but supports our partner charities with food distribution to their sites.

Thank you again to our dedicated team for their drive and ambition on this bid, special mention should go to Sunil Joshi for securing the funding through a strong and meaningful application. This is another demonstration of how Gratitude continues to turn acts of kindness from our army of talented volunteers into miracles for all to share.

We are eternally grateful for all our local councilors who secured funding from their ward improvement budgets to support Gratitude in 2022. We would not have made such amazing progress without their support.

Thank you to our suppliers

Our mission is to save food from waste, and we would like to thank all our suppliers from large warehouses, local supermarkets, and corner shops. We even receive home grown regular supplies from local allotments. We are grateful for all groceries, non-perishables, frozen foods, and toiletries and grateful for our volunteers to ensure that we distribute product in an efficient way to reduce waste. We distribute groceries to over 1,000 people each week and are central portal for other charities and food distribution sites in the area supporting another 1,000 people each week.

Thank you to our many wonderful supporters

We were grateful recipients of several fund-raising events in 2022. We love to share our mission and are grateful for the many donations received. Thanks to many families and local businesses who nominate Gratitude as their beneficiaries. To name a few, we received amazing donations from Platinum Jubilee party raffles, a sponsored walk by our local councilor, and a 50ish party for one of our volunteers, where Gratitude’s logo was put up in laser lights!

To raise funds for Hertsmere, Councilor Brett Rosehill walked the “Hertsmere Way” circling the entire 48 miles around the Borough of Hertsmere. We would like to thank him for his efforts and ongoing support to Gratitude and our community.

Development of Gratitude’s Community Kitchen

We hosted the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire to celebrate the first phase of the Gratitude Community Kitchen. To learn about the many contributions and donations for this project we dedicated a special post of gratitude on our website.

Gratitude on the map

2022 has been an amazing year for our Gratitude hub in Borehamwood. We have a telephone number, official address, and permanent residency and with the help from local councilors, businesses, and our essential volunteers, we have transformed the disused library and carved out an area for our new Community Kitchen.  We expect to complete this project in 2023 and hope to serve our community with nutritious hot meals.

Gratitude in the community

The spring and summer gave our volunteers an opportunity to get outside and meet the community and spread awareness of the charity at various festivals, school fetes and family days. Memories were made at the amazing and well attended Eid in the Park extravaganza. Autumn and Winter didn’t stop their drive and energy and they set up stalls in local schools and winter fairs sometimes outside in sub-zero temperatures. We are grateful for all our volunteers who gave up their time for this essential community collaboration.

We were delighted to be named as a recipient of many local shops and school’s charity collections and we attended school assemblies throughout the year to share the miracles of our service to the Gratitude community.

Volunteering opportunities

Gratitude hub has been blessed this year with hosting over 20 groups of Duke of Edinburgh volunteers from schools who volunteer regularly and visits from NCS teams for volunteering. We also have been grateful for several charities and local businesses sparing their staff for corporate volunteering days. We always find jobs for our volunteers, and they gain skills not available in the classroom and form special bonds with colleagues away from the office.

Gratitude’s Kid’s Corner

Gratitude’s Kid’s corner provides support to hundreds of young families through the redistribution of baby/toddler essentials, kids clothes shoes and toys. Regular donations from footwear suppliers in 2022 have been welcomed by our local mums who appreciate how quickly their kid’s feet grow!

Our volunteers at Gratitude’s Kid’s Corner have been busy entertaining our wonderful kids through initiatives to mark each of the festivals through the seasons.

At Easter they launched an International Craft Competition asking kids to demonstrate how they celebrate Easter in their culture through art designs. The team enjoyed dressing up as easter bunnies and gave a prize to the best design. Additionally, we were tasked with finding donations of Easter Eggs to give to patients in hospital. Through contributions from local sports centers, shops and residents we supplied 200 eggs to Barnet General hospital.

Special activities were delivered to support the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in May. Younger children had colouring activities which were then laminated, they also made beautiful crowns and the older children were engaged with quiz sheets to test their knowledge about the Queen.

In June Kids Corner distributed hundreds of soft toys, books and snacks at various summer fetes promoting Gratitude to the community.  It was a great opportunity to talk to people about all the hard work that Gratitude does and how we support the community.

Highlight of the year for us was when the team were engaged with the Halloween 🎃 fancy dress parade in October. They decorated a spooky outside grotto where the kids received snacks and activity books, and each were presented with a professional photo, and prizes were distributed for the best costumes.

More recently the team have been busy at several Christmas fairs, they set up a fantastic Christmas Grotto in the hub for the kids to meet Santa 🎅 and his elves. Every child received a present and had the opportunity for their photo to be taken with our three fantastic Santas and their Elves. They handed out 145 Christmas presents to all our well-behaved kids. It was a rewarding way to end 2022, seeing the happy faces of all the children who visited Santa 🎅.

The hard work and dedication of these wonderful angels to entertain our kids should be rewarded with thanks and appreciation. The team go above and beyond to brighten up our children’s lives and the magic is captured with professional photographs which are edited, printed, and shared with our delightful kids. This sets a glowing example to our youth of how generous our volunteers are with their precious time, and they get so much back from giving so much of their time.

Gratitude’s Singers

Bringing joy to our community is the objective of our wonderful and harmonious Gratitude Singers. Led by Chel, they meet twice a week and raise the spirits of the participants. We are regularly joined by members of the Multi Purpose Day Centre. Sessions are free to all and have recently been relocated to the Borehamwood Youth Football club. Uplifting tunes are sung encompassing different genres, cultures and customs and sessions are free to all.

Gratitude’s Creative Club

The Gratitude’s Creative Club is at the heart of the hub, hours spent decorating, wrapping, crocheting, and knitting all created with love and kindness.

This team of happy knitters have responded to requests from Barnet General Hospital and local retirement homes to provide blankets and clothes for patients as young as newborn through to old age. Through generous donations of wool from donors, the group meets regularly and makes hats, twiddle muffs, mittens, scarves, and blankets to provide comfort to patients in their hour of need.

Headed up by Valeria, the group has been a source of support to the neonatal unit at Barnet for over 4 years. Providing orange hats, newborn baby sets, jumpers, maternal pads and baby blankets for the neonatal unit, the tiny newborns are totally wrapped in love from their premature beginnings.

Throughout the year the team stepped up to produce a wonderful flower display at the Flower Festival, raised funds by selling 100 crocheted poppies and a crocheted wreath for Armistice Day, and when we have special visitors to the hub or raffle prizes required, they provide beautifully wrapped hampers with goodies for amazing table displays.

They provide the Gratitude Kid’s Corner with toys, bookmarks, nappy cakes, hats, and scarves throughout the year.

During Christmas the team are hardworking and prepared Christmas wreaths and stunning Christmas decorations for the amazing Santa’s Grotto and found time to make comforting clothes and blankets for patients in hospital.

Thank you to our wonderful team for sparing hours of their time to support patients in need and wider community. In total they created over seven hundred pieces, and we would like to take this opportunity thank the team for this valuable support.

Gratitude’s eBay Shop

Our entrepreneurial volunteers have launched an eBay charity website, to sell some of the high value donations to budding bidders. This year they have raised a considerable amount of vital funds to support local projects.

Gratitude’s Website and Social Media

In 2022, we have established a social media team responsible for announcements and website updates. This gives the opportunity to share our blessings and achievements, events, and community updates with the wider network to grow our charity’s reach. Thank you to the team who promptly respond to requests to keep the community informed, an invaluable resource and a great way to document our many achievements.

Looking ahead

As we look forward to celebrating Ten years of Gratitude in March 2023, we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who contributes to our wonderful projects throughout the year, and we look forward to sharing our miracles with our fantastic community in 2023.

Wishing our caring community, a happy, healthy, and new year full of Gratitude, Peace, and Love.

Written by Carolyne Klein

Cover photo by Markus Winkler

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