Improvements in health, education, religion, social services, recreation and the arts can all be traced to these families, foundations and their commitment to thankfulness and gratitude. Local PBS station WTCI-TV has partnered with the Chattanooga History Center to honor the heritage of change and innovation in the city, producing and airing the “History Makers” series that has celebrated the Siskin Brothers, Chattanooga Venture, Ruth Holmberg, the Brock Family, the Lyndhurst Foundation, Dalton Roberts, the Dismembered Tennesseans and the Howard Class of 1960. On Thanksgiving, WTCI will air “History Makers 2013: The Heritage of the McCallie Family” at 8 p.m,.
Helen Pregulman, one of Garrison Siskin’s children, reflects on “righteousness” as a part of the tradition of Judaism that is a justification for being here and which was “instilled in our family as a part of everyday life.” Many of Chattanooga’s early families shared this principle of philanthropy and it has guided a spirit of change since the city’s early days. When the Memorial Auditorium was built, there were annual thankful sings, events where Chattanoogans came together to celebrate being thankful, collect goods for the needy and raise their voices and souls in a spirit of gratitude that swelled the hearts of the community and provided sustenance to those in need.
Thanksgiving morning begins for many Chattanooga families with walking, giving and serving. The Turkey Trot to benefit the Kidney Foundation and the Grateful Gobbler to benefit the Chattanooga Area Homeless Coalition bring families, organizations and businesses together to walk to increase awareness and raise funds to support those programs. The Coalition currently covers 11 counties: Bledsoe, Bradley, Grundy, Hamilton, Franklin, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Polk, Rhea and Sequatchie, and 100 percent of event funds support that work.
Pete Cooper, Chair of the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, says, “Chattanooga is an amazing center for philanthropy. We seem to understand that we are dependent on each other. For the best interest of the community some people can give money, some can give time, some can give leadership, some can give hope. We can all give something. And it is in the fabric of this community to do just that, neighbor helping neighbor in large and small ways. We are all blessed to live in such a place.”