Welcome to Grateful Heart Monday, where gratitude remains the only expression in my writing to start my week off, which for today is for my 30th Alumni Reunion of the New York Theta chapter of Phi Kappa Psi at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).
A few weeks ago, I wrote about my hope for this reunion as I was holding great fear surrounding my toxic past that affected my relationship with my fraternity for a long time. I’m thankful to report how blessed I felt from this reunion and how connected I felt afterwards, the following is my gratitude to the brothers who made this truly special for me…
To Geoff Taylor, a brother whose heart runs deep, whose love for helping others and being a servant of God was more than prevalent through the entire weekend, and for helping me to see more of the positive side of life, I’m grateful for you.
To Chris Kay, a brother who has never given up on me, who has always believed in me, always supported me, and the only brother who makes me smile for being the only one taller than me!, I’m grateful for you.
To Brian Uhlin, a brother who showed me I’m loved by God even with having the tainted past I do, I’m grateful for you.
To Mike Van Bruinesse, Jay Williams, Eric Harrington, Tom Rehm, Phil Farchione, and Don Derrenbacher, six brothers who gave me amazingly huge hugs when they saw me, who each offered me many words of love, connection, and encouragement, I’m grateful for each of you.
To John Finter, Rob Parada, and Seth Gitner, three brothers who have remained incredibly active in our chapter for all these years, we wouldn’t have the chapter we have today or even have a reunion if it wasn’t for each of you, I’m grateful for each of you.
To John Hamblett, my pledge brother who spent much of the first day with me, treating me to an Indian meal and a Starbucks, reminiscing and laughing about the craziness during our undergraduate years and pledging days (“It’s making me do weird things!!!”), I’m grateful to you.
To Joel Feldman, a brother I have come to know over the years on a much deeper level, sharing a bond I don’t have with most, who spent time with me over coffee and during much of the weekend, reminding me of the good times we had together during our undergraduate days, I’m grateful for you.
To Daniel Sarata, a brother who has most assuredly helped me remain connected to our fraternity just by reading my blog and maintaining contact with me, who took the time at the barbecue to open up to me as he always does, sharing from his heart, and introducing me to his very spiritual and inspirational wife, those tears I shed there with you both were real, I’m grateful for you.
To Matt Christen, a brother who came long after I graduated that I met at the 20th but really came to know at the 30th, who spoke great words of wisdom with me, made me laugh A LOT, who truly has the kindest of heart, (and someone I’m definitely coming to in a zombie apocalypse with all those special set of hunting skills!), I’m grateful for you.
To Justin Steinhard, a brother who reached out to me personally on the phone prior to even coming to the reunion, letting me know I mattered to him, who checked in with me at every single event to make sure I was ok, and who did an incredible amount of work to make the reunion possible this year, I’m grateful for you.
To Craig Pettingill, a brother who took the time to introduce me to all of our family tree at the reunion, for helping to coordinate a huge family photo that I will always cherish, for the number of connecting conversations we had there and since I returned home, I’m grateful for you.
To Andy Molinaro, a brother who’s currently our chaplain, who reminded me so much of Jim Harmon, our chapter’s first chaplain, for playing a game of pool with me at The Landing Strip when I needed a double’s partner, and for spending time getting to know me and sharing about his life as well, I’m grateful for you.
To Bryan Takeuchi, a brother I continue to find great inspiration in, in the energy he carries, in the fatherhood principles he exudes, for continuing to follow the musings of my blog, and for the deep moments of connection I got with him prior to the reunion’s chapter meeting, I’m grateful for you.
To JaJuan Webster, a brother who shared with me a big hug, who helped me feel very much welcomed and embraced at the first event, and for sharing with me deeply on your career aspirations, I’m grateful for you.
To Greg Springer, a brother who has a story as deep as mine, for your open honesty on all the trials and tribulations you’ve faced in life, and for the hard work you’ve put into this weekend and our chapter in general, I’m grateful for you.
To Mark Butts, and all the other brothers who tagged along in my car to events, each of you reminded me why I always loved spending time on the road with my brothers way back when, talking and listening to music, I’m grateful for each of you.
To Trevor McClenon, a brother who although we only shared a quick hello during the weekend, reached out once I was home via messenger, who reminded me that the work I do in my 12 Step recovery often has blessings I may never know of, and has talked to me at length several times already, I’m grateful for you.
To Wade O’Brien and Jack Kalina, two undergraduate brothers who led much of the coordination of this reunion, for their leadership in general, and for the friendliness I had each time I talked to either of you, I’m grateful for both of you.
To Peter Radman, a brother who took the time to open up to me about his upcoming work in Croatia while roasting next to that blazing bonfire, I’m grateful for you.
To Greg Villafane, one of the newest brothers in my family tree, who I believe carries a level of energy that is destined for true leadership and greatness in this world, for learning you come from Glen Cove where my father’s family was from, and for really going out of your way to get to know me in a big way, I’m grateful for you.
And for all the rest of the attendees of this 30th reunion who I hugged, shook hands with, spent time connecting with for the moments we did, no matter how brief, each of you are why I remain a loyal Phi Kappa Psi brother, I’m so grateful for each of you.
Brothers, I love you all and dedicate today’s Grateful Heart Monday entry to the 30th Reunion of the New York Theta Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, to our fraternity in general, and to each of you…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson