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local support groups
We get many requests for how to establish, or increase activities in, local support groups or clubs. Here are suggestions.
WebWhispers listing of Local Clubs including IAL (International Association of Laryngectomees) member clubs
Download and print Jane S. Del Vecchio's How To Build A Successful Laryngectomee Club - an Adobe.pdf file.
Get and stay involved with the IAL and with your State Association of Laryngectomees if there is one.
Contact your local ACS (American Cancer Society). Volunteer. Work with them on keeping supplies and literature. Volunteer.
My simplistic answer is that you first have to define and be comfortable with what your purpose is and make a commitment to fulfill that purpose. Then, as long as you are fulfilling your purpose, it doesn't matter if you only have 3-4 members or a hundred members. The goal should not be to have large turnouts at your meetings although you work toward that as much as you can. Some of our smaller clubs may be small simply because they have done such a good job of fulfilling their purpose. They met with the new laryngectomees, gave them good information, emotional support, and most importantly provided a good example of a well rehabilitated laryngectomee that still enjoys life. If you are successful at that then you have probably served the purpose that was intended. If those new larys are as grateful as many are, then they will hopefully want to join you for the long haul by giving back to others what they have received. If they are not inclined to do then so be it. We all don't march to the same drummer. (Jack Henslee)
Meet at a regular time regardless of the number of members. More than once a month may be too much but there successful clubs that meet more often. Less than monthly, other than summer breaks (or winter breaks in the cold areas), doesn’t hold a club together.
You can find a meeting place. Often the ACS will offer a free room for your meetings. Clinics, hospitals, churches, and civic centers may be good choices for your group.
1. Establish a good visitor's program. That's what brings the new larys to you. The IAL will help and check with the local ACS to offer your services to anyone who contacts them. Start with your own doctors and SLPs and offer to call on new larys.. Try to educate the doctors and SLPs in your area about your group and that it is to help educate and support.
2. Do tobacco education talks, mainly to school kids. It builds community respect and interest in your group which can have various benefits. Reach out to other cancer groups, visit and be a speaker for them.
3. Bring in speakers. Ask your local professionals. You might get a physical therapist, a nutritionist, a long time lary, or someone to talk about specific problems or treatments. Some vendors will come in to display and talk about their products at no cost to you.
4. Try to be a social group as well as a laryngectomee support group. My club has an annual picnic, two houseboat trips every year, a Christmas party, a "Western Night" dinner/dance/fundraiser, five of the members play golf together at least once a week (and they didn't know each other before the big C), occasionally we do things like a yard/garage sale, bus trips to Reno, we attend CAL and IAL meetings together, or do volunteer work at the ACS.
Make a flyer for your own group
Check the WebWhispers Information Library Section - Free for the Asking
Put out a newsletter to send to your members and hand out to new larys. Start with a meeting notice and an article or some hints to read. It’s not difficult and there is plenty of material on WebWhispers, IAL, and ACS websites to extend your own articles and local news. Talk with ACS about sending it out for you as your monthly meeting notice to your local group and prospects. See the Headlines article on Newsletters.
Some groups have a telephone committee to remind people of the meeting. Gather local lary e-mail addresses from those who have them in order to send a quick reminder of the meeting or to share news in a hurry.
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