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Changing the Direction of Our Volunteerism

By Elizabeth Corbett, Programs & Membership Coordinator

Can these October days get any more beautiful? I love the bright sunshine, and exercising without humidity is just delightful. Too bad the lakes are now too chilly to swim in.

But who’s got time to swim anyway? This Membership gig is keeping me busy! I’m happy to report two successes in the past month: one, at Sunday’s membership Q & A and lunch, 100% more people showed up than at the September Kids’ Fall Fun Event. And, number two, David Goforth has attended church for maybe five Sundays in a row for the first time in years!

Reverend Carol has spoken the last few weeks about turning ourselves outward more and refocusing our energies. Not that supporting our congregation isn't important, but I recall what everyone says about volunteering: I get more back than I give. As a congregation, we do several “outward facing” things already: we are a presence at the MLK and Pride parades, we support a Hindu community with a place to meet, we offer VITA tax services to our Farragut neighbors, and we volunteer with Family Promise.

So, some relevant questions in my mind: can we do more and still have enough energy to take care of ourselves? How can Westside change the direction of its volunteerism? What’s important to us, and how can we serve the greater community with our talents and passions? I come at these questions from a position of privilege, I know. I am a middle-aged woman with an able body, a pretty good mind, and (lots of) time because I am not working full time or raising children.

One area I’m interested in moving Westside to is with Reproductive Justice. Curtis Dush and I gave a service about this on August 28, and we outlined what we had done to learn about the movement and prepare ourselves to take action. Since that date, we have attended more UUA-sponsored classes and worked with other local clergy on this issue. We have also included in the weekly newsletter a UU principle and some questions related to the principle. As each introduction has stated, the principles remind us who we are and what we hold dear as UU’s, and the questions challenge ourselves in how we define our community and how we can put our values into action. The principles and questions are preparing us for a Reproductive Justice Forum on October 23 after church. Curtis and I hope to have a rich conversation around your thoughts on these questions, and then we will move into an activity that will assess your risk level and what you believe is appropriate for the church to be doing. We’ll have a list of low-, medium-, and high-risk actions that we can consider as a way to proceed. Then later in December or January we’re planning a second gathering to decide if we want to act as a church and what we want to do. Because these events will happen after church, we’re planning on serving a light lunch for those who are at church, and if you attend virtually, the zoom link for the forum on October 23 is already in the Wednesday newsletter. You can also find a link to all the principles and questions in the newsletter also.

I sincerely hope you will attend the forum, contribute to the discussion, and consider a new way of looking outward. Maybe some future WUUC member will be fired up about our involvement in the community and make us their home.

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