I feel more thankful this holiday season than in years past. This realization came to me last week during a media and advocacy training with Baltimore community leaders who are fighting for the rights, health and safety of children, mothers, and families in East Baltimore. I’m thankful, because these advocates are having impact, and they have told us that our work with them has been part of what led them to success.

This was the second training—a 201 level course—with the same participants. My first question at the beginning of the day was, “How have you used what you learned in our previous training to have impact?” To my surprise, one gentleman quickly spoke up and said that the lessons on the importance of message informed his letter to a funder—complete with a story and strong messaging—that helped him win a $50,000 grant to start up an after school athletic program for kids who have no one at home after school. Another participant said that after listening to our guest speaker—Sherrie Johnson, on-air television correspondent for WMAR-TV in Baltimore—she later called Sherrie and said, “I have a story for you.” Not only did Sherrie do a story, but several other media outlets did too.

The trainers and staff at Burness Communications feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what we love by supporting good people do the right thing. It is exhilarating to know that our goals are being met—to make sure we are having impact and finding solutions to the health and social justice issues in our world. We learned from our Urban Health Institute friends that we have lots of work to do in East Baltimore. And we learned from the horrific event in Newtown, Connecticut last week that there are many major problems here and around the world yet unresolved, many policies to change, and many, many more important, clear messages to be shared with a variety of publics. We look forward to doing all we can in 2013, and we wish you a peaceful and safe holiday season.