Volunteer Spotlight: Lynda Wilson
In July and August 2017, our Volunteer Spotlight shines on Lynda Wilson.
We’re delighted to recognize Lynda Wilson, who inspires us all with her passion for social justice, her personal warmth, and her seemingly boundless energy!
Keeping up with Lynda would be hard to do, because she is involved in so many activities as director of the Refugee Interest Group, which she founded last fall – not to mention singing with the choir, helping with events, participating in small group ministry, and, in her spare time, taking trips around the globe.
But it is the Refugee Interest Group that is Lynda’s primary focus right now, because, as she says, we are facing the greatest refugee crisis since World War II, with more than 65 million refugees worldwide. Lynda’s interest in taking action was inspired by last fall’s screening of the Ken Burns-Artemis Joukowsky film Defying the Nazis, the Sharps War and a subsequent event that included an extended Skype conversation with Joukowsky. Not long afterward, Board President Virginia Volker asked Lynda to convene and coordinate a Refugee Interest Group.
Lynda says that nine agencies are approved for refugee resettlement in the United States through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), but the only one working in Alabama is the Catholic Social Services agency in Mobile—so the initial focus of the Refugee Interest Group has been on educational programs, plays, and films (in collaboration with the UUCB film and adult enrichment committees). On June 13th, however, the Catholic Social Service Refugee Resettlement program in Washington placed in Birmingham a refugee family from Colombia, with the support of Birmingham Catholic Family Services. This has provided a wonderful opportunity for Lynda and other members of the Refugee Interest Group to support this family as they adjust to their new life in Alabama, including help with finding jobs, housing, and English classes. Lynda is passionate about global social justice, and the Refugee Interest Group has been a great way to put that passion to work at the local level!
Lynda retired as a nursing professor at UAB in November 2015, after a 45-year career in nursing. During her last 15 years, she focused her work on global health, directing the UAB School of Nursing’s World Health Organization Collaborating Center on International Nursing, and serving as Director of Nursing Programs for UAB’s Sparkman Center for Global Health. Much of Lynda’s international work has been in Latin America and the Caribbean, but since 2006 she has worked in Zambia and Malawi, collaborating on many projects with her husband Craig, whom she married in 2005 and who directs the Sparkman Center for Global Health. Lynda’s high school Spanish was richly enhanced when she began work in 1995 with the Alabama-Guatemala Partners program, taking students to Guatemala to study Spanish and to learn about Guatemalan culture and the health system.
Lynda was raised in the Methodist church, and was later affiliated with a Quaker (Friends) meeting in Minneapolis. She first joined the Unitarian Universalist church in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1978. When she moved to Tuscaloosa in 1986, she joined the Tuscaloosa Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. After her divorce from her first husband in 1997, Lynda attended the First Methodist church of Tuscaloosa until she moved to Birmingham in 1999. She later began attending UUCB, where she became a member in February 2014, after attending the UU 101 class. Lynda says she is grateful for the supportive community that she has found at UUCB. And are we ever delighted that she chose to become one of us!