Thankful sign

As Thanksgiving approaches this year, the nation is being asked to scale back on gatherings with family and friends to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

But even as the number of cases continues to climb, folks are still finding reasons to be thankful, to count their blessings in this challenging year.

The Franklin Home Page asked a few leaders of the community to share what they are thankful for this Thanksgiving, and some of their thoughts are below.

Chief Deborah Faulkner, EdD, Franklin Police Department

deb faulkner.png

Deborah Faulkner

I want to express my gratitude for the people of Franklin. You have supported your police officers throughout this most difficult year. So many people have brought food, snacks, thank you cards, posters, and prayers, for officers who worked around the clock to respond to calls for service and provide neighborhood patrols. All of these gestures lifted our spirit and morale. We are accustomed to doing a lot of citizen interaction — we could not do that this year and we miss it. I want everyone to know your kindness, support and thoughtfulness never go unnoticed. It is greatly valued and appreciated by all of the men and women in blue who are sworn to protect you, always.

I am thankful for the members of the Franklin Police Department. This has been a trying year; however, every day you showed incredible resilience, dedication and courage. As first responders, you ran to head off any threats to our residents and ensured there was peace. You stood firm to every challenge and made us all proud. Every day you inspire me — I am honored to be the Franklin Police Chief.  FPD — you are the thin blue line.

Pastor Kevin Riggs, Franklin Community Church

It’s Thanksgiving, but for many of us it doesn’t feel like it. Without a doubt, this Thanksgiving will be unlike any other. The pandemic has changed everything, even how we celebrate. But nothing should interfere with our thankfulness. As I prepare to eat turkey and pumpkin pie, here is what I will be focusing on: Instead of complaining about all I have lost in 2020, I’m going to be thankful for all I still have.And I have a lot! We have a lot.

We have each other. Franklin/Williamson County is a great place to live. Our community strives to help each other, and we have helped one another during this difficult time. Our county is full of wonderful, loving, caring people. For that, I am extremely thankful.

We have faith, hope and love. I am thankful COVID-19 has not infected my faith in God. In fact, the pandemic has increased my faith. I bet it has done the same for you. Our city/county is full of people of faith, hope. I am thankful for all our churches, and all our religious communities. For that, I am eternally thankful.

We have family and friends. I have heard many people talk about how their important relationships (relationships with family and friends) have deepened during this time of social-distancing. My wife and I spent many hours this past spring playing on the rocks at Jim Warren Park with our granddaughter. If you are friends with me on Facebook, you saw pictures. For that, I am very thankful.

A great city. A strong faith. And loving family and friends. Those are the things we still have. We still have far more than we have lost. I am blessed. We are blessed. Our city/county is blessed. We have much for which to be thankful. However you choose to celebrate, celebrate with a full and grateful heart.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Matt Largen, President and CEO, Williamson Inc. 

Professionally, I am thankful for our team at Williamson Inc. A few years ago through a strategic planning exercise, we developed a list of core values: reliable, collaborative, kind, innovative, driven, humble and empowered. I am incredibly proud our team, collectively and individually, has lived up to every one of our core values during this incredibly difficult year. I am fortunate to get to work with some of the finest people I have ever known. 


Matt Largen

I am thankful for our team and the way they care for our community, each other and our organization. I am grateful and Williamson County is lucky the men and women of Williamson Inc. answer the call ever day to make this community a better place for our friends, families and neighbors.

Robert Blair, Chairman, Franklin Special School District Board of Education 

I’m thankful for family and friends supporting each other with a positive attitude during these challenging times and a community that continues to give toone another in this season.

I’m always thankful for a Savior who continues to Save and Love.

Jill Burgin, Executive Director of the Main Street Program and Government Relations, Downtown Franklin Association

Jill Burgin.jpg

Jill Burgin

I’ve been thankful for so much this year, especially my health and that of my loved ones. But with my job as Main Street director with the Downtown Franklin Merchants association, I’ve been truly grateful to see how willing people are to adapt to challenging situations. 

In spite of negative conflicts we’ve all heard about and perhaps have participated in during 2020, I am thankful we have the means to conduct business even during a shutdown, and that we have access to technology that can help us continue, even in a limited capacity, to earn a living and help others do the same.

Alma McLemore, President, African American Heritage Society of Williamson County

I am truly thankful for knowing and serving a sovereign God, who loves me and has grace and mercy for me in spite of my imperfections. I am thankful for each tomorrow that becomes today for it is not promised. 

I am so thankful that I can still have a positive attitude and feel grateful during these turbulent times. Many people are hurting and struggling so I should feel thankful because I’m not going through some of the things many people are going through. I am so thankful that my parents took me to church and taught me about God, obedience, integrity, and to always do the right thing. I am so grateful and thankful for my loving sons and their families and thankful that we don’t live a long distance from one another and that none of us are starving and are in pretty good health. 

I’m thankful for all of my other relatives and many friends. I’m thankful for my church family and my community family and to have special people who are so kind and thoughtful and want to support and show love in times when needed and when I call on them they want to help. People who are there in times of joy as well as sorrow. 

I am thankful for my health, my home, my transportation, the opportunity to have food on the table every day; thankful for God meeting my basic needs as well as some wants. I’m thankful that I can pay my bills and that since I am retired, I now work because I want to and not because I have to!!

I’m thankful that God instilled in me a spirit of love and care and concern for others. I’m grateful that I am able to still live in the community in which I was born and raised and where there is a great quality of life where people love and care for one another. I have so much to be thankful for but will continue to pray for those who are hurting, who may not feel so thankful at this moment! May everyone be blessed this Thanksgiving Day.

Debbie Henry, Executive Director, TMA | Franklin Transit Authority | CAP

Right now the world is challenging. And yet, I am deeply grateful for each day I can be present in this wonderful community, loving my blessed family and dear friends; working alongside dedicated team members working hard to make differences where we can; and paying forward to others the abundant blessings that fill my life. And, Earth Angels. I personally am eternally thankful for those shining souls who work tirelessly with unwavering grace, love and servant hearts to make the lives of all better. 

Bari Beasley, CEO, Heritage Foundation of Williamson County

I am so thankful for the amazing and personally committed Heritage Foundation board and new members inducted this year bringing a whole new level of experience, connection, support and passion for the work that we do through the Foundation and our three divisions.


Bari Beasley

I am thankful for the role our Downtown Franklin Association was able to play this pandemic year to provide critical support to local small businesses to navigate health and government safety protocols and restrictions, and create safe, family-friendly promotions to drive traffic and support economic vitality for our community.

I am thankful for the support of our city, county and greater community, as well as our architectural planning team, as we’ve worked hard this year to complete the master planning of Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens which not only represents one of the largest preservation projects in our foundation’s 53-year history, but also represents a major community showcase of history, education, art, culture, gardens and community celebration. 

During this season of difficult times where most small live performance venues are shutting their doors forever, I am thankful that our beloved Franklin Theatre, through the support of the Foundation, donors and overall community, is rolling out a plan to reopen safely and serve our local downtown community with live events again in 2021.

While we’ve had to cancel our signature downtown community festivals this year, I am thankful that we have been able to pivot and work with our strong community partners like the city of Franklin and Visit Franklin to showcase our rich cultural heritage in family-friendly safe ways through Paint the Town Orange and Holiday Magic on Main.

I am thankful for our donors, members and corporate sponsors who have continued to stand by us and support us even as we’ve had to move our mission forward in different ways than planned this past year.

I am thankful for my entire team who work tirelessly and have proven to be some of the most talented change agents a CEO could ask for.

Mindy Tate, Executive Director, Franklin Tomorrow

Personally, I have deepened my personal relationships and close friendships and discovered how much joy there is in a quiet night at home, even if it was preceded by a busy work day at home! I have found the joy in a phone call or sending a card to a friend offering encouragement.

All in all, 2020 didn't go as planned but sometimes the detour reveals sights we didn't know were part of the journey!

Outlook 2020 Chin

Ellie Westman Chin

Ellie Westman Chin, President & CEO, Visit Franklin

In this challenging time of the pandemic and hearing from friends who have lost their jobs and family members, there have been times of sadness and despair, but each new day brings to mind many things for which to be grateful. This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for my loving husband, my sisters and their families, my in-laws and friends across the country. My cup runneth over with caring and loving people in my life.  

I’m also thankful for a bright, sunny day, funny movies, books, music, exercise, and technology which has allowed me to visit with friends and family near and far. Even when things seem to be at their darkest, there is a light of hope and joy each day whether from a video of one of my nieces or nephews, a new book, a piece of chocolate. With gratitude in my heart, I wish a very happy Thanksgiving to all.