Chapter Highlight: Southeast Share Chapter

Chapter Name: Southeast Share Chapter

Location: Steinbach, Manitoba (Canada)

Chapter Leader: Candace Loewen, Share Southeast Chapter Leader

Support Group Information
First Thursday of every month at Southeast Helping Hands at 525 Main St in Steinbach from 7:00 – 8:30pm.

What have you learned since starting Southeast Share Chapter?

I am shy by nature. I don’t like making calls to people I have never met or dealt with. I hate to ask favours of people, and I especially worry about making someone feel obligated to help-even if it is for a good cause-such as Share! When I got back home after the conference, I was on such a high. I was so excited and had a clear vision about what I wanted to see happen with my Chapter here, WHERE I envisioned it being, and had convinced myself that I had morphed into a woman who was not afraid to ask, and not afraid to hear the word, “No,” then I made my first phone call. I was certain that my group would be a perfect fit for our family resource centre here in town (and I am still convinced about that) so when the director heard my “pitch” and replied with, “you have great vision, but you’ve got nothing else to offer me. Call me once your group is established and we will talk”, I was crushed. I literally sat on the floor and cried. I guess that’s my long-winded way of saying that, I am learning that not everyone has my vision, and that’s ok. I don’t need to take the “no’s” personally.

Advice to new leaders: see above 😉 also, don’t beat yourself up when you don’t have 30 or even 10 people come to your meetings! It’s going to take time. My mantra in the beginning was: even if one person comes, it’s worth it.

Social media is your friend. Facebook and Instagram have been invaluable in getting the word out there. Spending a couple dollars to “boost” posts every couple of months has been a huge help too.

What are some successes and difficulties you have experienced?

This summer was very stressful. We as a group had chosen to break for July/August months as my spot at the library wasn’t available for the summer. When I spoke with my contact to set up my booking for fall, everything was good. 2 days later she phoned me back to let me know that they could no longer accommodate us. I spent the rest of July and August trying to find us a new meeting place. (This of course happened shortly after having all new flyers and posters made with our group info!) I phoned a dozen churches, a number of not-for-profits, and community buildings, but no one was willing to donate us the space. ONE DAY before our scheduled meeting for September 6th, our local food bank offered us their kitchen. RELIEF! I was so nervous about meeting there, not knowing what people would think. But we actually had the best turnout yet-and that was with only a days notice as to where we would be meeting. God’s timing is not my timing, and I think He likes to remind me of that! My low turned out to be the high point! Some of the women even brought non-perishable food items as a thank you. How cool is it to have one non-profit helping out another!? We are so grateful for their generosity.

I have not put on any events on my own, but I have assisted our Chaplain in putting on the annual Service of Remembrance for all the little ones gone too soon. I am honored to be a part of such a beautiful service. I have spoken personally with many of the women who attend, and they all say that the service has been an integral part of their healing journey.  We plan to do a sign painting night this year for our December group.

If you’re considering starting your own chapter, my advice is: do it!

Be sure to have a good support system, and people who have the same vision as you. Be prepared

for only one or two, and even sometimes NO ONE showing up for group. It’s ok. The amount of women I have connected with and have been able to encourage and hopefully help in some sort of their healing, that don’t ever step foot into a group meeting is a large number. Sometimes people just need a safe space to vent or share-and a closed Facebook group is a great setting. It also provides people who aren’t close enough in proximity to come to group to still connect with others. I think that in itself is huge. If you’re feeling called to this work, it is fulfilling and heartbreaking all the same.

Connect with medical staff, and local church leaders. Ask to have 20 minutes of their time to give them a short presentation on what you aim to do in the community to help alleviate some of their post care.

Take time for you. A good massage, some worship music beforehand, a hot bath once you’re home from group. Whatever speaks to you. But burnout is real. I let myself get way to stressed this summer and I crashed hard once our meeting was over.

This will be healing for you, too. I thought I was doing this to help others. It has been more healing for me than I could have imagined, and I have my “Share Moms” to thank for that.

Read Candace’s Story

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