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Gratitude Jar Project Makes an Impact One Blessing at a Time

Despite facing healthcare challenges and living through a pandemic, Floretta Strong-Pulley greets each day with gratitude.   “I’m so thankful to be alive,” she said. “Life is precious – I don’t want to waste a moment of it.”

Floretta Strong-Pulley

To help her along her gratitude journey, Floretta, who has diabetes and undergoes maintenance chemotherapy, has joined dozens of others in participating in the Gratitude Jar Project.

The project began in January 2020 through the Partners of Faith Health Network (PFHN) at Advocate Trinity Hospital and Advocate South Suburban Hospital.

Participants reflect on the things for which they are grateful.  It could be an experience, a loved one or a co-worker they appreciate. They write down the blessing and place the note in their jar.

At the end of the year, participants will gather to share their gratitude messages and how being grateful has made a positive impact on them.

“The goal of the project was to start the new year with a focus on gratitude and to encourage members of the PFHN to stay mindful of the blessings they have in their lives,” said Patricia Jackson, a community health worker with Trinity who coordinates the PFHN program.  “It’s a way to see the positive things in life. We can always look at the jar and see all that we can be thankful for.”

“Positive thoughts can generate more positive thoughts,” said Gloria Brown, chaplain at Advocate Trinity Hospital. “We all go through hard times. The gratitude jars can provide encouragement when life can be difficult.”

PFHN members, like Eva Harris, have shared the Gratitude Jar project with their congregations. Here you can see the usher board of Blackwell-Israel Samuel AME Zion Church, Chicago, showing off their jars.

“We do know that joy promotes good health,” she added. “We look forward to seeing how participants’ health improves this year.”

Floretta took the Gratitude Jar project one step further and created a Gratitude Bucket List.  She writes down her blessings and goals on clothes pins and attaches them to a blue oval container.  When she achieves a goal, she drops the clothes pin in the bucket.

Her goals include exercising, completing a family photo history project, losing weight, walking in the park, working around the house, having a game day and more.

Among some of Floretta’s goals: Having a “Pamper Party.”

“I’m having a ball,” Floretta said. “The project has helped me focus on my goals and remind me of my blessings.”

“Having a positive attitude can impact the disease they have,” Jackson said. “A happy attitude can impact how they handle a situation. Every day they can look at the jar.  They can put something in it for which they are thankful.  It makes them feel happy.”

A joint project of Advocate Health Care & the OCEAN-HP at the University of Illinois at Chicago.