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Dan Rodricks

Dan Rodricks: On Thanksgiving, grateful for support in Ukraine, customers in Little Italy and hope in West Baltimore | COMMENTARY

Yana Karp, a sonographer at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, helped raise funds for medical supplies for Ukraine, her war-torn homeland.

Yana Karp, a native of Ukraine, arrived with her young son in Baltimore 33 years ago, on Thanksgiving Day. They had dinner at the Pikesville home of a relative who had emigrated a decade earlier. “We sat down at the table,” Karp recalls, “and learned how to celebrate this American holiday — hold hands, say words of gratitude and eat turkey with cranberry sauce, which was a new and quite unusual taste for our palates.”

Karp has been employed as a sonographer at Greater Baltimore Medical Center for 25 years. When Russia invaded Ukraine last winter, she started an online fundraiser at GBMC for medical supplies for the city of Uzhhorod, where she had relations. She raised $9,200.

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“A horrific war has gone on for nine months in Ukraine,” she says. “This Thanksgiving, my heart will be full of grief for people hiding in the shelters every day, families forced to flee their homes and children who have died as a result of the Russian invasion.

“Nevertheless, I am thankful because I will be celebrating this holiday with my Ukrainian cousins who came here this summer with their two young children. I feel overwhelming gratitude because they are safe, we can hold our hands together and I can teach them to eat turkey with sweet cranberry sauce.

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“I am grateful and proud of my country [USA] for helping Ukraine and opening a safe passage for the families to come here. I thank GBMC and everyone who contributed to the campaign that raised funds to help Uzhhorod City Polyclinic. I am thankful to be an American.”

I asked a few other people to tell me how they’re feeling and what they’re grateful for this Thanksgiving.

Christian and Pamela Wilson, founders of Heart’s Place Services, builders of 13 small, affordable homes for employed but homeless people in East Baltimore: “We are thankful for our small but loving family and our dear friends who lift our spirits, for all the good people of Baltimore who work tirelessly for those in need. We are thankful for our country, for not living in a war zone or in the deep famine and fear that others in our world experience. And we are thankful for our newly adopted cat, Georgia, who gives us joy.”

Phylicia Porter, first-term Baltimore City Council member, 10th District: “I am thankful for my family, friends and the people of Baltimore. More importantly, as we approach this holiday season, I am praying for persons experiencing homelessness. Having shelter, as a basic human right, should be afforded to all.”

Rev. Mark Parker, pastor of Breath of God Lutheran Church in Highlandtown: “I’m thankful for community, in all the forms it takes, and particularly for how that community is formed and reformed among people of different generations, occupations, races, ethnicities, cultures and countries of origin here in Southeast Baltimore.”

Ernst Valery, developer and founder of a $10 million private investment fund: “I am grateful for my family, friends and the opportunity to serve the greater purpose of leveling the playing field with our AequoFund.com, intended to promote diversity and equity by breaking down barriers to access capital while creating homeownership opportunities for working families.”

Joe Benny, owner and chef, Joe Benny’s in Little Italy: “I’m very grateful that I’m still able to keep the doors at my small eatery open. COVID had us down 60% in 2020, and just this past year we were able to get to pre-pandemic numbers. I’m grateful that the majority of my staff is still with me and my faithful patrons have come back. I’m forever grateful to everyone who has helped us survive.”

Odette Ramos, first-term Baltimore City Council member, 14th District: “I am thankful for my family, particularly my husband who has picked up the duties with our daughter. I am thankful for my amazing staff and our city workers, for my constituents who provided me the opportunity to serve and for my colleagues from whom I learn a great deal.”

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Hilary Falk, Chesapeake Bay Foundation president and CEO: “I’m thankful for the opportunity to come home to a special organization where I started as an intern 25 years ago. My gratitude extends to the people who wake up every day dedicated to improving the region’s waterways. I’m hopeful that together we will provide benefits to everyone who calls this region home — healthy communities and a vibrant Chesapeake.”

Vinny DeMarco, president, Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative: “I am so grateful that my family is healthy and that, thanks to President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, we are making great progress in protecting our climate and making health care affordable.”

Brandon Hyde, Orioles manager: “I’m grateful for the constant support of my family and the support of our fans in Birdland. We’ve had an exciting year, on and off the field. I’m thankful to be able to experience it, and I’m looking forward to what’s in store in 2023.”

Rev. Rodney Hudson, pastor of two Methodist congregations in the city and the victim of a street crime in August: “Though so many of us are suffering in West Baltimore, I am thankful that hope is still alive. We see it during times of unexpected tragedies. I am thankful that I serve a God who brings faith communities together to dismantle the barriers that divide us. So, instead of complaining, I express thanksgiving that, despite the challenges we face in Baltimore, God is still good.”


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