And I Think to Myself….What a Wonderful World

Team NLC News, Stories

Every year, Team NLC shares what we’re each grateful for. It’s especially exciting to share this year’s post with you because we have so many new team members and so very much to be thankful for!

We wish you and yours a wonderful, restorative, memory-filled holiday weekend.


I am grateful today for life’s teachable moments.

After a year like we’ve had, it might be tempting to get discouraged or even feel a sense of hopelessness at times. As a nation, we’re being forced to examine our own identity—who are we and what do we stand for?

The response is critical because our behavior has such a profound global ripple effect. But in this moment of gratitude, I choose to see the good that can come out of the struggle.

If we come out on the other side with a renewed passion for what we believe in, a stronger nonprofit sector, more robust community networks, more people who recognize the importance of participation, and an understanding of the depth of our power when we work together, then we can see this time as an investment in our future and our children’s future. So let us continue to work hard, have compassion for others, and pay close attention to the lessons we’re being taught by these turbulent times.

—Laurel Westmoreland, Education & Data Manager


I’m so very grateful for improved health and well-being in 2018. In January of this year, I started a new way of eating, the ketogenic diet. Over the course of the year, I have steadily lost weight but, even more wonderful than that, because my food is my medicine, I have also lost chronic inflammation and muscle pain and gained mental clarity and emotional stability. I also

I now have the energy to do many things I’d let fall aside over the years—from working out to following new personal passions. And cooking and eating are fun (and delicious) again!

I’m also grateful that my husband joined me in this way of eating in February and is also experiencing his own amazing advantages. We’re also enjoying a new sense of community as we meet—physically and virtually—so many others who have also embraced their health in this way.

I only wish we’d found this lifestyle sooner!

—Jen Dodd, Director of Education & Communications

Something that I have been truly appreciative of is my artistic abilities. I’m an artist, and I planted this life goal in myself to be educated in everything that I genuinely love.

Ever since I was in the 4th grade, my best friend, Olivia, taught me how to draw these, almost, stick figure-like girls (far right). You see, they weren’t the BEST drawings, but it really guided me to dabble into something greater something new.

We departed from one another, but I continued to do art by taking classes. And by the time I hit the 8th grade, art started to become a lot more serious to me. At that time, I figured out why I loved art so much; it’s because of nature. It really moves my heart into experiencing more. So, I can have a substantial amount of new ideas to create. I just love the fact that I have such a detailed eye for art because it just gives me a brand-new perspective on life.

I am very thankful for Oliviaand this astounding realm of creativity she opened up in my life.

Can’t wait to see what’s in store for me in the near future.

—Taghiyana Wells, Cristo Rey Corporate Work Study Student


This year has been a year of transitions. I have had a wedding, a career change, and I started my new job here at the NLC. As I look back and reflect at Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the little moments.

Oftentimes I am going too fast to notice them, but when I do, they are the moments I treasure the most.

I am thankful for the times early in the morning, when it is still dark, and it is just my two dogs and I walking in the park by my house.

I am thankful for the evenings I get to sit across the dinner table from my wife with no phones, TV, or other distractions.

I am thankful for the few fleeting moments of awareness where I remember to pause and take a breath and chose for a split second to live in the moment before going back to the business of life.

—Andrew Rametta, Fellow in Fund Development


Today I am thankful for…..SuperBoys and Pumpkins—also known as my darling grandchildren! What a most wonderful role being “Nana” is for me! It is entirely different from parenting in countless ways and you cannot easily grasp what it is like until it actually happens to you.

“Pride,” “love,” “happiness,” and “gratitude” don’t seem powerful enough words to describe the joy I have to be a part of these children’s lives and in this special role. But I feel all of those things. And yes, one grandson lives a continent away, and the other two live a continent AND an ocean away, so often I also feel sad when I am not a part of their daily lives. However, time and distance will never really keep love from blooming, especially between Nanas and grandkids.

—Lorraine Faithful, Operations Manager


Showing gratitude is one of the greatest virtues. Unfortunately, we allow our busy lives to stop us from benefiting from what it offers us.

So, in this season of gratitude, I want to say thank you to the universe for all that it has given me, taken from me, and allowed me to give this year.

I am and will be forever grateful for the relationships I have enjoyed this year—relationship with my wife, Marilyn; my son, Al; my daughter, Jelly; my mother; and my mother- and father-in-law.

I am also grateful for the opportunity NLC gave me to serve the nonprofit community, my colleagues here, my tennis friends, and all those who have allowed my life to touch theirs.

—John Loblack, Director of Strategic Solutions



I’m thankful for my family, and all the good times we have had—all the laughs we have had and all the good family dinners. And I also thank God for blessing me with this beautiful life.

I also want to thank my parents for providing food for me and my siblings every day, and for the clothes I can put on every day.

—Alexis Maldonado, Cristo Rey Corporate Work Study Student


I am grateful for the gift of music in our lives. I was born into a musical family. My mother, a graduate of the Westminster Choir College, insisted that each of us play a string instrument. I challenged that edict with my stated preference for the French horn. Luckily, she prevailed, and I inherited my sister’s cello when she went off to college.

While I never intended to be a professional musician, I loved everything about music, majored in music in college, hung out with musicians, and even laughed at their viola jokes.

Because of music, I travelled the world with my college choir: singing in Mozart’s birthplace and dancing in Austria to welcome the summer solstice. Because of music, I was able to connect with other musicians to perform exquisite piano trios and sing Bach cantatas. Most importantly, because of music, I met my husband and life partner Jim Connors in the cello section of the Amherst-Mt Holyoke College Orchestra in 1977.

I still have my cello and have now inherited my brother’s guitar. Someday, I will play them both. But in the meantime, I will relish each note performed by others and the shared appreciation for this most beautiful form of expression.

—Emily Benham, CEO