“The most memorable thing I’ll take with me after visiting Chattanooga companies last year is how people truly celebrate and are excited by the opportunity to give,” Edna Varner said as she reflected on her time as campaign chair. A retired educator and lifelong learner, Edna said she learned a lot in representing United Way of Greater Chattanooga in the community.
“I visited multiple agencies, like Orange Grove and the Boehm Birth Defect Center, and I remember seeing the community and connection between the people there,” she said. “It’s a new father navigating life with a newborn struggling with birth defects, right next to another father in the same situation. The resiliency from these situations is something you can’t understand unless you’ve ever been challenged.”
Edna said she saw firsthand how everyone seeks the feeling of helping someone – even the poor. In fact, most people become givers after being recipients.
“There’s a perception that some people are forever asking for help, but that’s not at all what I witnessed,” Edna said. “When you give to someone less fortunate, they join the army of those willing to help.”
While Edna’s time as campaign chair is over, she says Chattanooga’s work is far from done.
“I think it’s important to focus on what we’ve missed. In the past, early childhood was an area we missed. Now, we’re doing better, but, there are still new challenges we have. Chattanooga is a caring, mid-sized city; we shouldn’t have homeless people on our streets. If someone wants a job, they should be able to find one. If a young person made a mistake, their record shouldn’t hold them back forever. We should always be looking for the gaps.”