Grateful for Warren’s warmth, charm

For the Thanksgiving holiday, my wife and I returned to Chicagoland for what I’ve come to call “The Great Gratitude Tour of 2013.” So much in our lives has changed for the better since moving to Warren, and our trip west helped show us, by contrast, how grateful we should be.

After spending a harrying five days in the Windy City and its suburbs, we were all-too-ready to return to quieter, slower Trumbull County. Crossing the county line on our drive home, my wife exhaled a sigh of relief. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m thankful to live in our area – and to prove my gratitude is more than a sentiment, here are five things about Warren for which I’m thankful.

First, I’m thankful for Warren’s small-town charm. I’m thankful that the worst traffic I experience is on state Route 46 during the holidays. I’m thankful that I can strike up a conversation with anyone in almost any public place and not feel awkward. I’m thankful Howland Township decorates the park at Christmastime. I’m thankful that someone thought it was a good idea to have a Starbucks, a Target and a Chipotle in such close proximity to each other.

Second, I’m thankful for Tom Ross, CEO of Clear Choice Creative. My appreciation for Tom has many layers: first, for investing in our city and our Valley by operating a great business; second, for creating the documentary “Warren: The Retelling,” which paints the city in the positive light it deserves; third, and perhaps most importantly, for opening the Lime Tree Sandwich Gallery – making a second significant investment in our community.

Only a block from my office, I have visited the restaurant almost weekly for more than a month and have never been disappointed. If you put down the article now and head that way for a bite, I won’t be offended.

Third, while we’re on the documentary theme, I’m thankful for the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board, which this week hosted a screening of the documentary, “The Anonymous People.” The film, according to its maker’s website,, is a “feature documentary film about the 23.5 million Americans living in long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs.” The film was challenging, thoughtful, engaging, and made a clear call to action about a significant issue facing our community. Additionally, bringing together people from a variety of organizations, the board demonstrated a collaborative spirit and a compassionate approach to a significant problem that affects many in our area.

Fourth, I’m thankful for the Northeast Ohio Chapter of Operation Christmas Child, which sent 14,596 shoeboxes stuffed with toys, books, candy, school supplies, and personal hygiene items to children across the globe. If you had the experience of dropping of a box (or boxes) to the collection site on Market Street in Howland, you know the excitement, hospitality, and warmth the staff there displayed. Just imagine how that warmth and care will translate into the life of a child in need this Christmas season.

Fifth, and finally, I’m thankful for community organizations and churches that served many people in need around the Thanksgiving holiday, and will continue to do so as Christmas approaches. These organizations are always a vital part of our community, but are even more so at this time of the year. I’m grateful for your generosity and desire to serve our city.

Take a few moments this week, and if you haven’t, do what every human should do at this time of year: do a gratitude evaluation. Pull out a piece of paper and list what you have to be grateful for. I’m sure your list will be much longer than mine here.