Carolyn Raitt, Alison Tobey Smart Committee Member

I am honored to have been able to help with this project, as Valentine’s Day is my favorite non-religious holiday. I hugely appreciate the opportunity to tell people in my life how much I love them. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in our daily lives and forget to communicate to others how much they mean to us and how deeply we care about them. I am confident that our Valentine ministry is making a meaningful impact in the lives of our youth. And I can also tell you that it also made a difference for the parents who I talked to on Sunday. They were profoundly grateful to know that their kids aren’t alone in this world or in their ongoing transition to college; and that their church community is continuing to hold them in our hearts, minds, and prayers.So here’s my Valentine’s Day note to you all—I am so deeply grateful for each and every one of you as human beings. As children of God. By virtue of those things alone, you always have a place in my heart where you are cherished and valued and cared for. I am also grateful that you consistently serve as the hands and feet of Christ. Your commitment to our church, our community, and especially to our youth warms my heart. It is a balm that soothes broken places within me where I worry about the fate and future of our world, especially for our youth. Moreover, who you are as people and what you give of yourselves makes me feel safer and supported in this world. Not so long ago, I was one of our church youth who was deeply struggling with her mental health. I had guardian angels from Kenilworth Union, some of them still unknown to me, who held and carried me when I couldn’t go on. Their steadfast support helped me learn to walk my path independently—but never alone. Because none of us is ever alone. We have God. And we have each other. Thank you for being part of my “each other” and for letting me be part of yours too. I am lost for words to describe how glad I am that my path led me full circle—to being a clinical mental health counselor, to joining the Alison Tobey Smart Memorial Fund Committee, and to shepherding the next generation of our beloved youth as they find and learn to navigate their own paths. This is what life is all about to me—to love and to be loved, especially in and by our communities. My cup truly runneth over. 💝