Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski is the founder and director of the Washington Health System Teen Outreach. She responds to 6–8 questions from young people daily and has written 'Ask Mary Jo' since 2005.

My Thanksgiving column traditionally is dedicated to our young people in peer education and on our Adolescent Advisory Board. I am grateful for their words.

Ian Anderson: I’m thankful for my family, friends and the common elements of our lives that we often take for granted (various material possessions, our homes, the companionship of pets, and countless others). Many people around the world aren’t fortune enough to have a family, food, shelter and a decent life, and I think that despite what troubles many of us have in our lives, they are quite minuscule compared to those faced by others across the globe. However, perhaps there is an objective in this that should be noted, as it gives us something to aim for in terms of helping others, wherever or whomever they may be.

April Badamo: I am thankful for my family and friends and also the stuff I own.

Jocelyn Bizzelle: I am thankful for friends. They support me no matter what. I love them for that!

LaShauna Carruthers: I am thankful for being able to wake up in the morning and log into school. I am thankful to have the Outreach as a place where I can go to feel safe, and I am thankful to be able to worship as I have without thinking the worst will happen. I’m thankful for the person I left behind and for who I have become, and I am so very thankful for the support system of friends, family and adults who love me for who I am and continue to be a bright light in my life and future.

Toni Maurer: I’m thankful for my friends and family who have accompanied me on the opportunities and experiences on my journey of life post-high school thus far.

Sara McCartney: I’m thankful for another Thanksgiving dinner with my family. It’s always a fun time of year to just relax and be with loved ones. It’s not even about the turkey, although that’s a plus. I feel the time spent with loved ones you don’t normally see as often means the most. Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Angela Pinkerton: I’m thankful for my friends and family, and for everything they’ve helped me accomplish in life so far, and the wisdom they’ve given me for the future.

Matthew Stroop: I’m thankful for the opportunities all my directors and mentors have given me throughout my life so far.

Emma Watkins: I am thankful for my family, especially my little brother, and being successful with getting into vo-tech.

Maiden Wise: I’m thankful for everyone who’s ever made me happy or laugh, and everyone who’s been there for me when I wasn’t strong enough to keep pushing on my own.

Anonymous: Please don’t use my name. I’m NOT thankful for my parents, who refuse to accept me as I am. I am grateful for other adults who do.

Have a question? Send it to Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski’s email at

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