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Giving Up is a Prerogative of the Privileged

By Elizabeth Corbett, Programs & Membership Coordinator

Hello to everyone! Many of you know me as I’ve been a member at Westside for over twenty years, but for those who don’t, I’ll tell you a bit about myself as a way of introduction.

I’m a good Connecticut Yankee, and I moved to Knoxville in 1992 after three years in Guatemala teaching English. I’ve taught at many places in and around Knoxville, with the last fifteen or so at Lenoir City High, teaching English as a Second Language. I left in August 2020 because I was not happy with the school’s COVID policies. So for the last two years I’ve spent a lot of time trying to create purpose and meaning to my days. In some respects leaving teaching at that time and not being able to do much (because many organizations were still closed to volunteers) was a maddening experience (I like to be busy), but it was also a surprise gift because I couldn’t immediately jump into a thousand different things without much thought. So here I am two years later and my days are full and meaningful: I tutor some Italian men at a tile plant in Loudon (and I’m learning Italian on Duolingo), I work with a few Hispanic families and students in Lenoir City with my former colleague, and I volunteer with a fledgling nonprofit that’s trying to link immigrants, mental health clinicians, and lawyers. Plus I get tons of joy from swimming, biking, and running (BIG triathlon coming up 8/21!!), doing my daily word puzzles, and being with my three special grandkids (children of a former student).

And, of course, I’m now Westside’s Membership Chair. I’ve been in this position since July 1, and Reverend Carol and our computer wiz Office Manager have helped me adjust to all the new tasks. Naturally, my main task is to increase membership! So, I’m reaching out to guests who sign our visitor cards and to Westsiders we haven’t seen in a while. Some children’s activities are planned for a day later this fall. As I keep learning, I’ll let you know in coming months what I’m doing and how you can help.

Related to membership with the idea that many younger visitors are looking for ways to be involved with the community, Curtis Dush and I are figuring out a way Westside might be able to work with a reproductive access campaign. We’ve attended three sessions hosted by the UUA/Side with Love, and we’re in conversation with other concerned clergy and lay leaders in the Knoxville area. Stay tuned for our ideas on August 28!

Finally, my title about privilege and giving up comes from (I think) Doug Muder who writes a blog called The Weekly Sift. He sometimes appears in UU World as a guest writer. But the quotation reminds me of both my privileges and of my responsibility to work for those without the very same privileges.

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