Keeper of the Flame: Amy Hartman
This is the third article of 2017 in a series where I, Lee Elliott Carnes, President-Board of Trustees, ask questions to the Leaders of our gatherings. This month, Amy Hartman, long-term member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Lake Norman, shares her vision. Amy has served in multiple leadership positions at UUFLKN: President-Elect of the Board of Trustees (2012-2103); President of the Board of Trustees (2013-2014); Past President (2014-2105); Social Action Leader (2015 to present); and a member of the Lake Norman/University Transition Team. Amy has been and continues to be a champion of the Wakami Chuk Muk project in Guatemala
Lee Elliott Carnes: What was your first experience with Unitarian Universalism?
Amy Hartman: I consider myself as being raised a Unitarian Universalist – even though we really only went to church until I was 7. My parents were ex-pats, living in Mexico City. My Methodist Father had married my Jewish Mother, and they were trying to figure out how to raise two young girls in a heavily Catholic country. They found a small, start-up Unitarian church meeting in someone’s living room and helped to grow it to have their own building and minister. I have fond recollections of that church — we still keep in touch with my RE teacher as well as other families from that congregation. Forty years later, I found myself starting a UU fellowship in Lake Norman with a couple dozen others, working to help it grow! I am excited about exploring the possibility of merging UU Fellowship of Lake Norman and Piedmont UU Church.
Lee: So what made you so passionate about Unitarian Universalism?
Amy: For me, giving back to the community is a significant part of my religious foundation. I hope to leave a service on Sunday feeling at least a little bit guilty or inspired by ideas on how to make things better. I look forward to Social Action service opportunities and believe in acting locally and globally.
Lee: What is the history and future of the Wakami Chuk Muk project in Guatemala?
Amy: I have traveled to Guatemala many times in the last 10 years working with Habitat for Humanity Guatemala to build safe, affordable homes for a country that has had many natural and man-made disasters. While I still enjoyed Habitat, I started feeling like there was something more that I needed to do. A friend in the Davidson area introduced me to another non-governmental organization (NGO), Wakami, which provided economic development opportunities for women and families in Guatemala. They not only provide small business opportunities, but empower and educate women on how to better their families and communities.
Right around this time, Rev Robin Tanner, Rev Nancy Allison (Holy Covenant) and several Piedmont UU Church congregants had identified the community of Chuk Muk in Guatemala as a community that had been through more than its fair share of hardship. July 2013, we visited Chuk Muk with the purpose of identifying a NGO doing good work in the community and expanding the churches’ social justice more globally.
Two and a half years later, we were able to marry up the Wakami economic development model with the needs of the Chuk Muk community! In 2016, with the first of two years of funding from Piedmont UU Church, Holy Covenant, and a couple of other sources, there is now a small business providing new income for 20 families in Chuk Muk! They know that as long as they make high-quality material, they will be able to make money. These families have the same dreams that we do – to keep their kids in school, feed them healthy foods….and now with a consistent income, they can do that! I look forward to visiting later this February and seeing how our support has impacted this small community!