Last week at Cultivate we split into small groups and went to local fire stations to thank the firefighters for their service and sacrifice on our behalf. We had balloons, discounted Valentine's Day candy and cards. Our goal was simply to surprise them with a small act of gratitude, and to provide our whole team with an opportunity to grow in gratitude. Going into the night, I had modest hopes that the firefighters would be available and pleasantly surprised, and that our students would engage with the activity in a very different, and perhaps intimidating context.
Long story short, I was blown-away by the graciousness and hospitality of our local fire crews. Each group returned at the end of the evening with stories and pictures of tours, of sitting in fire engines, and of firefighters who went way out of their way to make our students feel welcomed and appreciated for coming. One fire crew even gave the group that visited them $20 to go buy Love Boat ice cream! (If you don't live in Fort Myers, Love Boat is the best, period.)
The event served as a reminder of the power of both gratitude and hospitality to turn strangers into friends. There are many social and cultural boundaries between most of the local firefighters and most of our students. Yet, we saw how a small act of gratitude received with genuine hospitality can create an environment in which normal boundaries and normal life can be interrupted and something far more beautiful can appear.
Thank you fire fighters of Lee County! Your service, and your hospitality, are appreciated!
|The Iona-McGregor fire crew wins the silly pic of the night contest!|
|Ready to roll...|
|The flotation device was a nice touch...|
|We also surprised Shari, the Pine Manor Center Director|