Carol Hamilton has identified as a Unitarian-Universalist all her life. She came to UUCSS in 1996 in search of religious education for her eight-year-old daughter. Yassi Davoodi. She became involved in UUCSS and she and Yassi enjoyed going to UUCSS’s annual retreat at Catoctin, but as a single mother, she said no to frequent requests to volunteer, particularly for religious education. Then she left for three years to work at the Mountain, a UU retreat center in North Carolina. Upon her return, realizing she had said no to many volunteer requests, she asked herself, what do I want to say yes to? For Carol, she found that she enjoyed doing things that were different than the things she did all day professionally, and she enjoyed trying things out and learning new skills through church life. So, when she heard that the Board was going to engage in strategic planning (for the first time in a long time) she reached out to then-President Maud Clarke and offered to work on it. She became the chair and then a member of that first strategic planning committee, working with Catherine Buckler, Mark Ferrenz, Jim Paoletti, and Phyllis Ryder. She also became a facilitator of an in-reach group when they were first formed, which she facilitated for quite a few years, and continues as a member of an in-reach group to this day. She served on the membership committee and helped to reconfigure the membership process as a clear and standardized process for all people who wanted to become members. She also served on the personnel committee.
In or around 2012, Carol was elected to the Board and found herself named Interim President prior to her first board meeting. She was a member of the Board that had to deal with the problem of two called ministers with different visions for the church. Although it was a very difficult and challenging process over several months, Carol was impressed with the quality of the discussion and discernment among the board members as they struggled to come to the “best worst decision” they could. She then rounded out her tenure by serving as interim President again for the last three to four months of her term in 2015. Most recently, Carol has chaired the search committee, the members of which she considers a “really good group of people.” Serving on different committees and the Board is a way to get to know people and learn their strengths, which Carol finds valuable. Between each volunteer committee, however, Carol deliberately takes a volunteer sabbatical. Carol encourages other members and friends to think about what church activities or opportunities they want to say yes to, and to step back after a period of service to recharge and to give other people a chance to step forward.