Section 11: Appreciation


Our Straight-A Guide program concludes with a lesson on the importance of expressing gratitude. At the Michael G. Santos Foundation, we are convinced that struggle is a fact of life. Those of us who’ve been formerly incarcerated face ongoing challenges because of our criminal history. Yet we’re convinced that by following a deliberate path that aligns with our values and goals, we broaden our vision and seize or create opportunities. As we make progress, we find enormous value in expressing appreciation for the blessings that flow our way.

When we live in a state of gratitude, we make it easier for others to accept us. Essentially, we open possibilities for kindness when we show our commitment to living as one with the broader community. This lesson of value that comes from showing appreciation is not new. It has been written about since the beginning of time. Those who live with anger or bitterness or a sense of entitlement have a hard time accepting the message. We encourage those with whom we work to embrace this truism because it can make all of the difference in their prospect for happiness, fulfillment, and increasing career opportunities.

The literature we use to teach our Straight-A Guide program is filled with examples of people who fully internalized the importance of expressing gratitude. Showing appreciation wasn’t a calculated manipulation, but genuine eagerness to show others in the community how they would work to prove worthy of opportunities. For example, Michael wrote about a man who wanted work so badly that he offered to work free of charge for two weeks. He actively sought an employment opportunity. He wanted to prove that although he had made bad decisions that led to his imprisonment, he could add value to any enterprise. The man pledged to work harder than anyone else on the job for two full weeks. If the business owner didn’t find him worthy, then the applicant pledged to shake the business owners hand and thank him for the chance.

That man did not have to work for free. Instead, the business owner recognized the inner drive of the job applicant and hired him on the spot. Within a few months, the business owner noticed that the formerly incarcerated individual didn’t only work hard. He smiled at everyone he encountered. He was so genuinely friendly that he made others feel good to be in his presence. The man felt so grateful for being employed that he became the type of guy that inspired others, adding to an improved, cheerful work environment that didn’t only benefit the enterprise, but everyone on the team, including fellow workers, customers, and suppliers. That sense of gratitude paid off for the individual. Whereas he once yearned for a job, his willingness to show appreciation resulted in his receiving increasing levels of responsibilities and promotions ahead of schedule.

At the Michael G. Santos Foundation we’re constantly working to show our appreciation. We’re grateful to the employers who open opportunities for those who graduate from our program and we’re grateful to the women and men who join our mission. They help us make the case that all individuals can add value to the fabric of society. We show our gratitude by renewing our efforts to build new bridges that lead the formerly incarcerated into the labor market.

Describe the ways that you show gratitude for the blessings in your life.