Several people have asked for a copy of the speech that I gave when receiving this year’s Cohase Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year Award. Here it is, with love – and without my rushed reading:

I want to share appreciation for everyone fighting all of the million little uphill battles. In their personal lives. Professional lives. And civically-engaged lives. Please don’t forget to share your stories. The most valuable lesson that I’ve learned over the course of the last year is that everything we are and everything we do is completely intertwined. And I think that a majority of people don’t reflect on that nearly enough. Many aren’t remotely aware of the world around them. How are we supposed to solve global issues if we don’t even realize the issues our neighbors are facing? Or sometimes, realize the issues affecting us internally?

I want to take a minute to share appreciation for everyone in the room who spends their evenings in meetings and their weekends volunteering, especially when they’re sometimes the only people that show up. We’ve all been in too many meetings to count where the questions on the table are, “Are we doing any good?” “Should we keep meeting?” “How do we get people to engage?” I heard this great quote at the Women’s March rally in Montpelier this past weekend. To paraphrase, “It’s important to be an activist, but the real work is in those 10,000 meetings for social change. That’s where the important stuff happens.” Thank you for going to the meetings.

I want to share appreciation for everyone who takes the time to listen to people. Who shares coffee with a kid with a business idea or a parent who is struggling. Who is never too busy to send that email introduction that can transform lives – even the ones that can’t. Who takes the time to review an application. Who shares their perspective willingly, and respectfully.

I personally believe that each of us has a responsibility to contribute everything we can to bettering society. Thank you for showing up, for doing the work, and for changing lives.

Thank you for changing my life. There are a lot of people in this room that have shared their time, energy, support, and story with me. You have written the emails and listened. You have opened doors for me. You have challenged my point of view and helped me grow. You have provided cheers. And hugs. Thank you for keeping me going. I promise to pay it forward.