It’s not an easy task to run a successful support group and that’s why we contacted the retired Chairman of the non profitable 501(c)(3) organization, Mary P. Harper, Fibromyalgia Association of Houston, Inc. She has worked for 16 years with her board and has given us some tips for a local support group.
First, we recognize that not everyone supports the same group.
1) Define what your goals are.
Look at your motivation and ask, “Why do we start the group? “If I want to help people with fibromyalgia (FM), I need to be more special. For example, would you like a social, information, political, etc. meeting to be held? Mary said, “We found structure bringing back people. Our meetings were also keen to keep fun. Now it is time to start planning your meetings once you have your mission.
2) Create a list of helpful people in your community.
Initially, you can look for good doctors, alternative care providers and other fibro-friendly professionals, as you seek help in improving health and well-being. You may have a list of these people to share with other people, such as new arrivals or clinics where FM is diagnosed. “Our group maintained a list of doctors and lawyers recommended by members,” Mary commented.
3) Create a structure for your meeting.
so that you can be sure you have time to connect but have time to learn something with your fellow warriors. This can be achieved by having speakers. One way. “All we had to do with fibro at our meetings has been permitted,” Mary explains. “Most of the time we had medical and legal professionals.” Speakers can sometimes be found by word of mouth. Ask local doctors, for example, recommended by members of the group.
Mary said that in 16 years, she did not pay speakers nor allowed people to sell their affiliation, “It’s time to make them careful,” she warnails, “because people start calling in to offer fibro-cure.” “We have been very careful not to offer any product approval.” You can go so far that each speaker is given a disclaimer.
4) Be willing to try something new.
“We had a less organized event once a year. We ran an open forum, which we called. Meetings such as this might need to be balance with some exciting things, like an entertaining party or a meal. They were focused on personal stories and on medical stories. “Otherwise we ended up with bad feelings about what was happening if we spent too much time talking about our problems.”
5) Find a way that works to communicate with your group.
It is so important to keep in touch with your group between meetings. “Our group has a newsletter emailed out and mailed out.” The newsletters once a quarter provide valuable information and connections. “This was before the internet, and it was crucial.” Any group of sizes can focus on useful articles and actualizations.
6) Have a “Question and Answer” section at the end.
This allows the speaker to get through their presentation promptly, without being followed by the story of a person. “We learned to distribute cards to members so that when they got there, they might write their questions,” Mary explained. This is a way to avoid people forgetting about their questions. Then take the questions and share with the speaker during the break.
7) Have a consistent time and location.
“It’s really important to have it at the same time. It can cause anxiety, if you move it around, “said Mary. Each of us “would like to be in our backyard, but we can’t be everywhere.” So it is crucial to choose a central location.
“We started Tuesday night and then moved to Saturday afternoons, which worked best that we anticipated,” proclaimed Mary. Check out when it was time to meet.
While smaller groups can meet at home, a number of public places can be rented out for community groups sometimes free of charge. Check the conference rooms available at the time you want to meet at Churches, libraries, community centres, office complexes and even your medical centre. “We never had it in the house of someone,” Mary explained, “we’ve been too large for it.”
8) Social outings can work for close groups.
Social outings work best for groups with members who live close together. If your group draws from a wider geographical location, attendance to social events may be lower.
9) Meet regularly.
“We varied over the years from the ideal meeting once a month to each other month,” Mary explained. If you have the assistance, it would be a great way to keep your group engaged once a month, and then another month-long excursion.
10) Leadership is crucial
For your group’s long-term success. “We had a board of directors and a medical director at our meetings with an average of fifty persons,” Mary said. “For someone else, if you want to start a group.” If you want to start a group, do this with someone else. You can always start and recruit people for your meeting. Fibromyalgia support organizations are hard to deal with because all are sick. Be sure to ask your members when big events, such as conferences, support their healthy spouses.
“We all have great intentions to begin our support. These are the lessons we have learned over the years from the management of our support group.
For 16 years, Mary was in charge of the Houston Fibromyalgia Association. Her volunteer position was withdrawn recently. She can answer questions to help you get your support company off the ground. To contact Mary, please fill in the form below.