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November 23, 2015

What Philadelphians are thankful for this Thanksgiving

Lifestyle Thanksgiving
What Philadelphians Thankful For Photo Illustration/For PhillyVoice

From left to right, going clockwise: Sharon Pinkenson, Jim Kenney, Marcus Allen, Rosalyn McPherson, Ellen Yin and Eli Kulp.

Thanksgiving ushers in a time of year when Philadelphians are able to, if only for a moment, shelve their immense workload, set aside all pomp or brassy attitude, and pause to reflect on the year's blessings.

Below, 17 of the city's influencers serve up a slice of humble pie with their answer to the most common question to grace Thanksgiving dinner tables: What are you thankful for?

Jim Kenney, mayor-elect

"I'm thankful that I am a descendant of immigrants [who] were lucky enough to be accepted in America. There are a number of immigrants who do not have this privilege today, and that's why I want to ensure that immigrants seeking refuge are welcome to our city."

Frank Lee, co-founder of Drexel's Game Design Program

"I am thankful for my children, Jessica and Jake, who will be 1 and 4 next year. From them, I am learning what pure love is and the euphoria and despair that can only come with loving someone that much. And because of them, I'm truly thankful for my parents, whose love for me I am just beginning to understand.”

Ellen Yin and Eli Kulp, owners of High Street Hospitality Group

"Eli and I are grateful for all our amazing customers, as well as the generosity of the entire community, which has helped provide friendship, support and inspiration to Eli and his family. And, we are extremely thankful for the future – as we put the finishing touches on High Street on Hudson in New York City. We are so proud of our restaurant families at Fork, High Street on Market, and These incredible individuals work tirelessly to maintain and exceed the quality standards we have been building, and they continue to believe in us and our vision. Special thanks to the Philadelphia restaurant community, too, including our vendors, neighbors and friends who stepped up to help raise money to cover the uninsurable medical expenses related to Eli's accident. Countless friends from all over the country have held fundraisers, sent notes and cards, visited, sent care packages, prepared meals, donated equipment and many other acts of kindness. Despite this awful situation, we realize how fortunate we are and how blessed we are to live and work in this amazing city.”

Jane Golden, founder of the Mural Arts Program

“I am grateful for the gift of meaningful work that seems to grow in depth and breadth all the time. Just this fall the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program produced a major public art exhibition where 14 extraordinary artists used their vision and talent to tackle complex social issues in many different ways. I was thrilled with the results, inspired by the work, heartened by the outpouring of support from Philadelphians and beyond. We are certainly a city where art is alive and thriving. It is nothing short of a movement and I feel grateful and honored to be part of it.”

Marcus Allen, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern PA

“I am thankful for the compassion and love shown by everyday people who still believe that the least of us are entitled to opportunity, respect and understanding.”

Anuj Gupta, general manager of Reading Terminal Market

“I’m very thankful for my family – my wife, children, parents, sister and all of my extended family. While the Thanksgiving meal is something I look forward to every year, the holiday is really a celebration of loved ones, which is what makes it special. I’m also very grateful for the new opportunities both my wife and I have professionally over the past six months – we are given the chance to have an impact on a city we care about deeply.”

Alex Hillman, founder of IndyHall

"I'm thankful to live in a city that's big enough to have all of the best parts about living in a city, but where anyone can make a difference if they try."

Rosalyn McPherson, president of the Urban League of Philadelphia

"I am thankful for the love of a close network of family and friends who support me in my mission to empower people in our communities."

Conrad Benner, founder of Streets Department

"I'm thankful to live in a city that fundamentally understands the value of public space. From William Penn's original design to the spaces we are creating and reimagining today, like the Schuylkill River Boardwalk or Spruce Street Harbor Park. In a City of Neighborhoods, as we are, we need these spaces where we can come together."

Elicia Gonzales, executive director of GALAEI

"There is so much to be thankful for in 2015. I am grateful and proud of our work at GALAEI, as we continue learning how we can work in the community -- and thankful we have the opportunity to create a home in North Philly. And I'm especially thankful for the love and joy I have in my life from the amazing relationship with my true best friend (and now wife) to the unconditional love from my family in Colorado, to my tribe of queers, misfits and seekers of justice and lovers of life."

Sharon Pinkenson, executive director of Greater Philadelphia Film Office

"Above all, I am thankful for the love and support of all of the generations of my wonderful family."

Erin & Sterling, owner and CEO of Pop! Promos

"2015 has been a year of growth and progression for Pop! Promos and we have so much to be thankful for. Pop! Promos was named the No. 1 fastest-growing company in the region by the Philly 100. We are also so grateful to David Langlieb and Ivy Olesh at PIDC for helping a small business like ours upgrade to a new office in Philadelphia! And of course, we are thankful for our exceptional customers, because without them, we wouldn't have been able to achieve the things we have this year. Happy Thanksgiving!"

Frank Sherlock, Philadelphia poet laureate

"I'm grateful for the Philadelphians who showed me love and support during my time as poet laureate. I want to thank the slam kids, firemen, bikers and librarians I've met who inspire me to be a better writer and a better human."

Michael Pasquarello, owner/operator of 13th Street Kitchens

"I have been fortunate over the years and I have a lot to be thankful for right now. At the top of my list is the health and happiness of my family. My wife and kids -- Hudson and Carter -- will always be at the top of the list."

Tanya Steinberg, president of International House Philadelphia

“I’m thankful for the positive impact that generations of alumni of International House Philadelphia are making in the world as leaders that embody our commitment to fostering mutual understanding and respect for people of all cultures and nations. They learned while living with us that it’s possible for people with diverse backgrounds and beliefs to live together in harmony, which is our hope for the world.”

Brittany Lynn, drag queen and head of Mummers' 'Miss Fancy Brigade'

"I am one lucky lady and extremely thankful for gigs, wigs, family, health, furry kids and my new astro-booty hip and a** pads! Love and lashes! xoxo"

Betsy Ross, American icon

"I am grateful that I have been able to support myself and my family with the work of my own hands. In my day, it is unusual for a woman to be able to support her own family, and I am lucky I have skills as an upholsterer and flag maker. Come meet me in person at my house on Arch Street!”