Need Some Advice on FA Support Group

Posted on: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 1:54am
bandbmom's picture
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Joined: 12/14/2005 - 09:00

I took over as the local support group coordinator in the spring as the founder and coordinator moved out of state. It has been a bumpy road taking over and has caused me a lot of stress and feelings of depression. I have continuously tried to continue on, but with all that I have going on within my own family, I have decided that I need to step down as the group's coordinator.

I would like to handle this announcement as best as possible because I truly care about the families in the group. I have felt very torn because I want to continue running the support group, but know that I need to step down. I'm trying to decide what would be the best way to let people know. We have a meeting this coming Thursday night, Jan. 4. My first thought was to run the meeting as usual and then announce it towards the end of the meeting and then email other members that could not make to the meeting the next day, but I'm not sure if this is the best approach or not. I'm trying to put the shoe on the other foot and try to decide how I would want this information relayed to me, but the answer is not clear to me.

Please let me know what your thoughts and opinions are.

Thanks,
Tracy

Posted on: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 3:15am
gvmom's picture
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Joined: 08/24/2005 - 09:00

This is a [b]SUPPORT[/b] group right? I'm assuming that it is a smaller type group, mainly women? Kind of like a Moms club group, but with the focus on FA's?
If this group of people is truly support, then what I'd do is be honest. I'd probably just start the meeting with telling them that you can't do it anymore. That your personal life is just where you need to place your focus, and that you really wish you could continue on leading the group but can't. And you could also add at that time that if anyone is interested in heading up the group, for them to let you know.
Of course, this assumes that your meetings are casual and not some largescale business type meeting, with a formal setting. But even then, I'd probably approach it the same way. It is afterall a support group.

Posted on: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 3:19am
JacksonsMom's picture
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Joined: 07/21/2002 - 09:00

I think your idea sounds like the best way. Just be honest and tell them what you've said here. It sounds very sincere, and I'm sure everyone will understand. Do you plan on staying with the group just not leading it? Maybe offer to help find a new person to lead, and gradually step down.
Your family should come first, and the whole idea of a support group is to find help and support - not make the situation more stressful!
Good luck to you [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 5:21am
saknjmom's picture
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Joined: 04/02/2003 - 09:00

Do you have anyone in mind that might be interested in taking over? Possibly contact that person and see. Is it your duty to find a replacement? How were you chosen to take the other person's position?
I would be honest just like you are here. People appreciate that and they generally deal with things well when they know what's going on.

Posted on: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 7:05am
bandbmom's picture
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Joined: 12/14/2005 - 09:00

Thanks for your responses.
In the spring, the support group had over 90 families as members. Unfortunately, when the previous support group leader announced she was moving, I was literally the only one who stepped up to offer to run the group. Out of the 90 families, only a handful of people had been helping out with the group. Once I took over, another lady and I sent several messages out looking for help in different aspects of the group. The previous leader did A LOT for these families, much more than I even imagined. Of course, many people expected that this would continue. After my pleas for help were unanswered, I put a message out there that one thing in particular had to be taken away from the group because of lack of help. All heck broke loose. I was called selfish and accused of not caring about the kids. Many people dropped off after that. I've only been getting around 10 people show up at meetings. After the dust settled, many people stepped up with offers to help. At that point, I felt like I could move forward successfully with the group. But, over the last two weeks, so many things have happened at our house that the mere thought of preparing for the meeting on Thursday depressed me. With my schedule, I truly only have time for one extra thing a month and the support group has been the only thing I do in my spare time. It is really much more work than most people realize it is.
Anyhow, my biggest question is this: Do you think I should inform everyone with an email prior to the meeting or just tell those members who are at the meeting on Thursday right at the start of the meeting and then do the follow up email to those who weren't in attendance? I do not have to find the replacement for group leader. My one thought is that if I tell people ahead of time, someone might give it more thought before the meeting and offer to step up and offer to take over rather than waiting until Thursday night. I feel like I might be blindsiding people this way.
Again, let me know how you would feel if you were a member of my support group.
Thanks a bunch,
Tracy

Posted on: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 7:22am
Gail W's picture
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Joined: 12/06/2001 - 09:00

I know this will sound kinda weird, but, will making the announcement to the group in person be emotional for you? Do you think you'll cry? And if so, is that okay with you?
You stepped up to the job last spring and have filled the position for almost a full year. You provided a very needed role of filling the shoes of the person who started the group. . . Not such an easy job, IMO. It's always hard to take over the "founders" role, no matter the size of the group. I admire you for raising to the challenge and 'serving'. I hope you feel very proud.
I agree with everyone that you can just be honest with the group. And yet on the other hand, I think it's also appropriate for you to approach this as pretty matter-of-fact and the natural course. I mean, you've provided leadership for about a year and, also importantly, you've created a transitional bridge from the originator of the group to a new 'era' . I think it would also be fine to approach it as this is the right time for the group [i]as well as you[/i]. KWIM? Shift the focus a bit away from you and toward the natural course of this group and what is best for it. Just another option for you that would shift the focus a bit away from revisiting any strife or stress with the group as well as anything going on with you personally. . . and instead keep the attention on the future.
Anyway. . . just a little different thought.
Good job, Tracy. You made a big contribution to this group, and I know it must be hard to step away.

Posted on: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 7:23am
Corvallis Mom's picture
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Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

What a tough position to be in.
Please don't feel guilty!! You're doing a brave thing in stepping down because of your own family's needs.
I think that I would e-mail the few people who have been regularly showing up to meetings ahead of time... let them know first, and word it so that you are open to acting as a "coordinator" or helping the new leadership learn the ropes (if you are)... and welcome any discussion of the future at your next meeting... tell them to pass the word to anyone who is interested. That way, you don't feel like you are sending out a mass e-mail to people who are ungrateful at best and probably don't even care. But at the same time, you aren't being sneaky and only telling a select few. KWIM?
This might allow the meeting to be more produtive for the group as a whole, too.
90 families?? Holy cow. That sounds like a pretty unweildy size for a B+M support group, actually. I mean, nice on a VERY occasional basis, but a little intimidating for people who are frightened, blindsided, and feeling bullied by everyone they know over a child's FA. I know that 12-step support groups tend to work BEST when the group size is between 5 and 20 people. Too small and there isn't objectivity, but too large and it feels scary and impersonal... and frankly impossible for any one person to coordinate. I assume that this group probably [i]started out[/i] in that ideal size and outgrew it... thus explaining why some people in it had the impression that it must have somehow run itself, huh?
Well, anyway. Good luck. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 7:46am
saknjmom's picture
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Joined: 04/02/2003 - 09:00

Let me get this straight, a support group that can't support the leader to sustain the support group?
UM, well I would be very frank and say that you are really overburdened as you had previously stated and some additional situations have risen that make it impossible to continue as the leader.
Someone will step up....this must be fairly formal, I know there is one group here in NJ that the leader does a lot, but I don't go to that group. i prefer more intimate settings.
I'm sorry you're worrying about this.
I am not sure if I would mail ahead of time or not. Have you already prepared for the meeting? If you have and you email ahead that you're stepping down, are you worried that people won't bother to show up?
It will work out.

Posted on: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 8:00am
gvmom's picture
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Joined: 08/24/2005 - 09:00

That is a ton of people. I'd still stick by my original assessment. Of course, I do have the position that if among all those people another person won't step up, then how bad can they really want it? You can't hold it together for them. You need to be supported too, and part of that is you not feeling bad for needing to take care of your own life first.
Be honest. Forget planning too much for the meeting if people flip out. Call it a wrap early if you need to, and send out an email afterward.
And, as a member, if I were a member of that group, I'd be fine with that approach.

Posted on: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 8:50am
bandbmom's picture
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Joined: 12/14/2005 - 09:00

Wow! Thanks so much for all the support and words of encouragement. I feel like I'm letting people down, but you are all making me see it differently now.
Gail - Yes, I will probably cry when I talk about stepping down and I've thought about that. I think it will take too much focus away from the meeting and put too much focus on me. Thank you for bringing that up. For that reason, I think it will be best for me to send an email ahead of time.
Corvallis Mom - I like your suggestion of emailing those people who have been involved with the group and then let the information get passed on by them. I do feel like I owe those people more of a detailed explanation as to why I need to do this.
saknjmom - I did have a meeting agenda planned out, but then changed it to an open forum once I made the decision to step down. Yes, I have been worried about letting people know ahead of time in fear that no one would show up. But, I can't worry about that I guess. If no one shows, no one shows. I have to do what is right and hold my final meeting.
One other question: We have our meetings at the library in the township where I live. This part was an easy transition because the previous leader also lived in the same township. In order to reserve the meeting rooms, you have to be a resident of the township. I already have the meeting room booked for February; do you think it is a bad idea to offer the room to anyone that wishes to use it for a meeting or that would offer take over the group? Would you continue to let them use the room under your name? I've been contemplating this one also. I think the cons would be that it would ultimately be my responsibility if something were damaged and, if you are not out of the meeting room by 8:45 p.m., they can charge you (the library cardholder) a fine (can't remember how much right now). None of the regular attending members have residents of my township, so they would lose their place to meet.
I'm sorry I keep asking these questions. I probably seem to indecisive, don't I? I just want to handle this with care and tact, KWIM? I value the opinions of the people on this board, so your imput means a lot to me!!!
Thanks again,
Hugs - Tracy

Posted on: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 12:57pm
Gail W's picture
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Joined: 12/06/2001 - 09:00

How'd it go tonight? I was thinking about you. {{hugs}}

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