Laurie Birt

I am a transplant from San Francisco and have lived in Knoxville for 20 years now. My time now is spent as a volunteer for Smoky Mountain Service Dogs, a nonprofit that supports wounded veterans by providing a custom trained mobility assistance service dog. Before SMSD, I spent 35 years as a freelance court reporter. Hiking, reading, and learning about native gardening are a few of my hobbies.

Q: Please tell us a little bit about your family.
I am single with some family in CA and my mother is here in Knoxville.

Q: Please tell us about your current, past, or future career. What do you love most about what you do?
Being a volunteer is the best job ever – my “paycheck” now is seeing the dogs progress from wild teenagers to mature service dogs, then hearing how receiving a service dog has changed the lives of deserving veterans. Working with the dogs and learning from our professional trainers is the best part, along with being able to speak to groups about what we do.

Q: What are a couple of your favorite restaurants in our community?
Yassin’s Falafel House, Lakeside Tavern, Bonefish Grill.

Q: How long have you lived or worked in our community?
20 years.

Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in our community?
Too many to mention – both interesting good and interesting bad :).

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
I would start with Spain and Portugal and work my way around the parts of Europe I haven’t been to yet.

Q: What is one of your favorite movies? TV shows?
The Court Jester, The Sting.

Q: What advice would you give to people?
Make a plan, have a backup plan – but be willing to adjust to life changes.

Q: What is something on your bucket list?
More travel.

Q: What is your go to band when you cant decide what to listen to?
The Eagles.

Q: What current or former local business makes you the most nostalgic about our community?
Baker Peters Jazz Club.

Q: If you could choose anyone that is alive today and not a relative; with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? And where locally would y’all meet for this lunch?
Any of the HGTV designer/builders. I’d cook lunch here and they could work on my house.

Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about our community?
Smoky Mountains.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?
Traveling to distant countries.

Q: (Even for friends or family), what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
My early – very early – career aspiration was to be a nun and a roller derby star.

Q: What is the most beautiful place you have ever been?
Glacier Bay, Alaska.

Q: Favorite month? favorite holiday? and best single day on the calendar?

Q: What would you rate a 10 out of 10?
People of integrity.

Q: Who inspires you to be better?
My dogs.

Q: What is one or two of your favorite smells?
Coffee, forest

Q: Finally, what 3 words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
Cozy, safe, fog