Who Will Be There For Me?

Who Will Be There For Me?

Executive Director Valerie Hsu wrote the seventh in a series of blogposts regarding Rev. Paige’s upcoming sabbatical happening April 1, 2023 through August 31, 2023.

This week Becky Reese offers an eighth blogpost, below.

Do you deeply appreciate Paige’s warm presence and the security of knowing you could contact her for a conversation if you need her? If so, you’re in good company.    

You may be wondering who will be there for you at UUCC if you need someone to talk to while Paige is away on sabbatical from April through August. Well, rest assured that Paige has been giving this focused attention since May of 2022 when plans for her sabbatical began. We are a community, and you are not alone!

There are many opportunities to connect with informal groups or activities at UUCC, where you may find informal caring support. But as rich as these opportunities are, life events can come up that call for something more. Sharing your heartfelt Joys and Sorrows is one way to let our community know what’s going on in your life.

Besides the many people who will offer a kind word or a helping hand when they know of a need, there is organized support as well. UUCC has had a lay-led pastoral care ministry since a few years after we called Paige to be our minister in 2003. There are multiple facets to this ministry.

If you’ve been around for a while, I hope you have heard of the Karuna team. The name means compassion in Sanskrit, with an action-oriented focus. The Karuna team serves with open hearts, caring listening, and helping hands. Compassionate listening is Karuna’s specialty. The team is also available for check-in calls, cards, and occasional visits to UUCC community members. Robin Slaw, our Director of Religious Education, pursued training to become a chaplain while she was on sabbatical and is offering hospital visits. One Karuna specialty focus area you may not be aware of is support to families of individuals who are going through gender transition. To request any kind of pastoral care services, just email Karuna@uucolumbia.net! A small group monitors that email and will get back to you promptly.

In addition, as Valerie mentioned last weekKirk Freeman, a member of the Chesapeake UU Minister’s Association, will serve as a pastoral care resource during Paige’s sabbatical. You will have an opportunity to meet Kirk soon, and Karuna will connect congregants to him as needed for pastoral care. 

Among many UUCC folks who have loyally served, there are a few key Karuna people I’d like to spotlight. Linda Linton was one of the founding leaders of Karuna, establishing a firm foundation. Linda Nedzbala, also a founding member, is our longest-serving member, continuing to the present. We have huge gratitude for her service! Anne Gould has been a loyal and dedicated member for many years, and Candy Wachterman served as the Karuna team leader for over 10 years. Kim Estell took over leadership and communication responsibilities just prior to the pandemic.

Flo Wagner was drawn to serve on the Karuna team not long after she joined the congregation in 2008. As a professional linguist, Flo felt drawn to the Sanskrit name, Karuna. As she passes the baton to others, we thank Flo for more than 13 years of faithful service on the Karuna team, including a long-term commitment to supporting the needs of UUCC founding member Eileen Henderson!

Other currently active members of the Karuna team include Karla Pearce, Bernie Rock, Suzi Gerb, Jenny Afkinich, Betsy Osterman, and Phyllis Yigdall. A few others are in the wings as well. Still, we’d love to expand the team. If you have a caring heart and excellent listening skills, we’d love to have you join the compassionate Karuna team. Please contact us.

There is also a team that organizes volunteers to provide meals and other short-term services for community members during or after illness, childbirth or hospital stays, or related to other major life events. In addition, they organize contributions of food for memorial services. Caela Berry is picking up the lead role on this team from Lindsay Thompson who has been serving since prior to the pandemic. Once she finishes her term as congregational president, Jenny Afkinich will join Caela as co-lead to back her up when she travels for work. This team could use some additional members. Might that be you?

You may have seen publicity lately about the transportation services that Ed Gaddy is organizing to provide rides to services for community members. If you need a ride, or would like to volunteer as a driver, Ed would love to hear from you!

But support services to our community don’t stop there! Our fabulous youth group is offering odd job services to earn contributions toward service trips. If you have a task for them, they’d love to hear from you.

The bottom line is that there are lots of ways to find and provide nurturing and support to each other at UUCC!

I, Becky Reese, am in the process of forming a Steering Group to oversee the various components of UUCC’s lay-led pastoral care services to make them even more robust. During the sabbatical period, we will be experimenting with new ways to communicate and structure our efforts. We welcome your ideas, requests, and feedback. Feel free to contact us at: Karuna@uucolumbia.net

Yes, we will miss Paige’s routine presence at UUCC while she is away. Thankfully, we have a rich abundance of internal resources within our broad and resilient community. There are people you can count on to support you when you reach out for someone to lean on. Please don’t hesitate to let us know how we can support you.

Stay tuned for next week’s final sabbatical blog from Kirk Freeman!


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