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When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around

By Elizabeth Corbett, Programs and Membership Coordinator

So I ended last month’s column with a quotation from Dr. Seuss, and I’d like to start with it this month: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” I did not doubt that people at Westside “care a whole awful lot,” and let me tell you how we’ve followed through with the two volunteer projects.

First, Westsiders wrote fifty holiday messages to inmates through the UUA’s Church of the Larger Fellowship program. I’ve learned a little more about the Church of the Larger Fellowship program since last month: its purpose is to support isolated UU’s around the world with an online platform for connection and spiritual growth, and services happen Sundays and Mondays by Zoom. Part of CLF’s ministry is outreach into prisons through the Worthy Now program, and its belief builds off the First Principle that everyone has inherent worth and dignity NOW (even though we may be incarcerated). You can read more about the Church of the Larger Fellowship and Worthy Now through those links. But anyway, Pickett attendees wrote about 15 messages to inmates that weekend, and since then we’ve been plugging along after church on a few Sundays, and I finished up about three messages myself this past Sunday night. I confess some of my family members wrote a dozen messages the day after Thanksgiving also, but it’s all good. To repeat Kofi Annan’s words, “If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.”

The second project is supporting a family with five children through Family Promise. You all better watch out because about twelve people volunteered to sponsor a child, so now I know I can request to sponsor more children next year! Plus, the donations have been pouring in (about $150!), and I will use that to purchase a few gas cards for the parents and also a few nondescript unisex gifts to “even out” the number of gifts each child gets (Family Promise suggests that, so one child doesn’t receive say, eight presents and another one has only three). And the fun will happen next Sunday, 12/11, after church when we are wrapping the gifts together, decorating the church, and celebrating the season. And I would add, feeling grateful that we are neither incarcerated nor living in a shelter. Willie Nelson said, “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around." It’s great to be able to count on Westsiders to give of themselves!

And, I’m (drum roll, please!) SUPER EXCITED to unveil on Sunday a trifold bulletin board I’ve been putting together with the help of you all. The good news is, everyone will get a chance to participate at some point! But for the debut, I appreciate Lorie, Barry, Mike, Judy, Grechen, and Michele for getting us started and for sharing part of their lives with the rest of us. I’m hoping that the bulletin board will be a way for us to get to know one another and to start conversations. I’m not sure yet how I might incorporate this, but I’d like to include some way for us viewers to give positive feedback/comments/questions on the board. Look for it on Sunday at church! And, if you attend online, I will have the link to the stories in next week’s (12/14) newsletter.

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