Gathering for the Yellow Envelope Project is actually not so inappropriate on this last Monday in May - otherwise known as Memorial Day.

Memorial Day, after all, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. And while honoring the deserving men and women for their sacrifice is at the forefront of our minds, we might also consider using a portion of this day to remember service to our nation by someone who is still alive. Most of us agree that, if we could trade an American flag placed at the grave of a fallen soldier for a heartfelt, in-person "thank you", we would do it in a minute.

The Yellow Envelope Project brings us one step closer. It is a simple program designed to recognize everyday citizens whose service to their community makes the world a better, brighter place to live. But, instead of waiting until the person dies, we show our gratitude when he or she is alive, so they can fully appreciate the importance of their contribution.

And just like those men and women honored on Memorial Day, we don't rank our reverence based on what kind of service they performed for our country when they died. We celebrate everyone. The same is true of Yellow Envelope recipients. We appreciate any citizen who shines and who, in doing so, makes her corner of the world a better place to live.  Take a look at what the nominator said about today's recipient. 

"Mary Jo is an amazing woman. For years she's run a teen youth center focusing on the needs of teens. Here teens and their families learn about things that effect their daily lives but also she has helped them create plays and productions, write grants and gotten funding to help educate them about wellness. She co-wrote the teen pregnancy curriculum for Lamaze International and is simply there every day for the teens in her center - sometimes in subsequent generations. She just finished her EdD at the age of 60!"

To remind American of the importance of Memorial Day, a resolution was passed in December 2000. The resolution asked, at 3 p.m. local time, that all Americans "voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect.

Do that.

And then spend five more minutes honoring Mary Jo by writing her a short letter of gratitude.  Thank her for devoting her life to teens and being so relentlessly passionate about her work that she actually earned an Ed.D. at 60 years old. It says to me that Mary Jo plans to continue shining for many more years to come.

Once written, seal your letter in a yellow envelope (or white envelope decorated with yellow stickers and markers) and mail it to the address below. Remember to place the words "Yellow Envelope Project" in the return address.

Won't it be nice to show your gratitude on this Memorial Day, knowing that Mary Jo will receive it and revel in it?

Mary Jo Podgurski
410 North Main Street
Washington, PA 15301


Shining off until tomorrow....