Monday, November 9, 2020

I Have Felt Privileged for Every Moment of This Work: Martha Thompson Retires From IMPACT Chicago

Over 30 years ago, my friend Theo encouraged me to go to a self-defense presentation and demonstration to find out more about a unique self-defense course she had taken. When the organizers invited volunteers to do a knee strike to the guy in the padded suit, my hand went up. The experience of that kick was all I needed to sign up for the next course.

That May 1988 program brought together so many of my commitments and interests that I said yes when asked to help develop a self-defense program appropriate for a college curriculum. I had started my university career of teaching sociology with a women's and gender studies focus at age 23 and the opportunity to  combine my academic interests with teamwork, emotional work, and powerful voices and bodies as a self-defense instructor was irresistible.

I’ve been involved with IMPACT Chicago for over half my adult life and it is now time for me to step back from teaching full-force programs, serving on the board, and doing administrative work. I will continue to support IMPACT Chicago and its dedicated and skilled Admin Team, Board, and Instructors in whatever way I can (e.g. if needed, assist with instructor training and help our IMPACT:Ability program get off the ground).

I will still be doing empowerment and social justice work as I continue as the Self-Defense Coordinator for the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation until 2022; continue to be an active member of the Empowerment Self-Defense Alliance, an organization dedicated to influencing national dialogue about preventing interpersonal violence; and continue to support the work of not only IMPACT Chicago, but other IMPACT chapters.

I have greatly enjoyed and appreciated all the people I’ve worked with over the past 32 years to build and maintain the infrastructure that makes it possible for IMPACT Chicago to offer our fabulous programs. Whether new to IMPACT or a long-time volunteer like Lisa Amoroso who has been volunteering since 1990, the work of IMPACT Chicago board members and administrative staff has made it possible for IMPACT Chicago to continue to shine since 1987. I have felt privileged for every moment of this work.

Not surprisingly I hope, my biggest inspirations and rewards have been found on the mat. I have been moved profoundly by each person who has courageously stepped into an IMPACT class; each circle where we witness others’ grappling with their past, reflecting on the present, and opening themselves to a bigger future; each scenario where a defender faces and meets a challenge; and each time we applaud and cheer for each other. I have felt privileged for every moment of this work.

I have not experienced these inspirations and rewards alone. The teamwork with other lead and suited instructors and class assistants has been so enriching. There is nothing like getting feedback from a team on a class plan; working with that team to put the plan into practice while also working to make minute by minute adjustments; and in challenging moments experiencing support from a team member's glance, a word, or a nod. I have felt privileged for every moment of this work.

Martha Thompson
Instructor, 1988-2020
Volunteer Coordinator/Director/Admin Team Co-Leader, 1988-1995, 1996-2020 

Our fund drive this year is in honor of my retirement. You can find the lovely letter from IMPACT Chicago about my work and some more words from me HERE. I know there are many organizations and issues worthy of your financial support. I hope you will join me in making a donation to IMPACT Chicago this year. Any amount will mean a lot to our continued work. You can donate on the IMPACT Chicago website via Paypal, on the IMPACT Chicago Facebook page, or send a check to IMPACT Chicago, 4057 N. Damen Ave, Chicago IL 60618. Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Martha, As usual, this is so well-written and evocative for me of all my experiences leading classes and helping to keep things going in the DC chapter, in our national work together, in IMPACT's international work, and in supporting Empowerment Self Defense everywhere. My favorite times have been when working with you. Everyone who has been so privileged knows what an honor and delight that is. May you enjoy your further such work as much as we have enjoyed having you to do it with! Much love, Carol