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High School Graduate’s Gratitude Project Honors NewBridge Staff

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

High school graduate Samantha Abrams' 'A Gratitude Initiative' honored NewBridge employees.While grocery shopping early in the pandemic, NewBridge Services longtime clinician Deborah Abrams and her teenage daughter, Samantha, witnessed an elderly cashier rattled by nasty comments uttered by a frustrated customer.

When it was their turn to check out, they told him they appreciated his coming to work and doing his job. “We could tell it made his day,” Samantha Abrams said. “Then the man behind us in line thanked him too. We started a little chain of gratitude.”

That encounter planted the seeds for the younger Abrams’ service project. “I founded `A Gratitude Initiative’ in 2020 with a simple idea to recognize and thank the many essential workers — in addition to healthcare workers — who remained dedicated to their roles during COVID and beyond,” she said.

NewBridge Superheros

The 2023 Mountain Lakes High School graduate began creating hand-signed thank-you notes for essential workers at the start of her sophomore year. To date, Abrams has signed 1,400 cards for staff at 29 entities. She has delivered them to store employees, educators, police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, local government workers, and delivery drivers, among others. Last month, 180 NewBridge Services employees and members of the nonprofit’s board of trustees joined the list of “superhero” recipients.

“I wanted to do it for people who are addressing mental health and are so motivated to make the world a better place,” said Abrams, who will study forensic psychology at DeSales University in Pennsylvania in the fall. The cards thank individuals for their perseverance and dedication to provide vital services.

In announcing NewBridge’s inclusion in “A Gratitude Initiative,” NewBridge CEO Michelle Borden wrote: “I know that every NewBridge position contributes to our success and I appreciate your commitment and resilience…Please be proud of the great work that you do as part of our NewBridge family.”

Cyndi Crans, a case manager in NewBridge’s Children and Family Services for a decade, said she was delighted to receive Abrams’ thank-you card — accompanied by Borden’s note — in the mail. “I felt happy and smiley. It made me feel special,” she said. Crans said posted news of the recognition on her social media accounts.

Keeping it Going

Abrams’ gratitude project fulfilled her high school’s service hours requirements within the first two weeks, her mother said. While implementing the project, Samantha Abrams worked weekends at a deli, babysat, and served as a camp counselor. The National Honor Society member also played softball on her school’s varsity team and a travel team, and sang in her school’s choir and chamber choir.

The Boonton Township resident has been honored several times for her efforts, including by the Mountain Lakes Education Association. The 18-year-old hopes to start A Gratitude Initiative at DeSales University. She wrote a proposal urging the high school Key Club, which she participated in, to keep it going locally.

“This has taught me how to appreciate the good in people,” she said. The initiative gave Abrams “an understanding and appreciation of how many behind-the-scenes personnel are essential and contribute to the overall success” of organizations, she explained.

Deborah Abrams, who has worked at NewBridge for two decades, said she couldn’t be prouder of her daughter. Championing gratitude and appreciation for workers’ efforts “is a really good thing to put in motion,” she said.


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