Support Group Needs — from a Parent’s Perspective

Support Group Needs — from a Parent’s Perspective

Because I’m an extrovert to the core, I’m naturally a “joiner”. I’m part of Parents’ Council for both of my kids’ schools, Autism-related support groups, special needs-related support groups, moms groups, etc. As a result, my schedule can get pretty filled between those groups, appointments for my son, field trip chaperoning for my daughter, being taxi-driver to ensure my son gets to IBI, etc.

I’ve seen groups that are well managed, others that are still growing, and others that have it so down pat that they are amazing! So, I thought I would compile a list of things I really like that groups put in place to help their members.

To communicate with your group:

  • have a Facebook group
  • keep a current membership list (this will look different for any group as some have fee-based memberships, others are just attendance-related)
  • have an email distribution list (include members, “friends” of the group, speakers, sponsors, etc)
  • send reminders of meetings/events a few days before via email and Facebook
  • have a website and/or blog…BUT you only need this if you keep the information current! An out of date website is just a waste of time and virtual space

If you can’t manage all these electronic ways to communicate with your membership, ask for help! Ask your membership if anyone is willing to help. We’re all on Facebook, Twitter, email all the time anyway, what’s an extra 5mins a day when we’re all staring at our screens, waiting for some form of communication with a grown-up world. If no one steps up, ask me! 😉 I’m happy to do it for groups I attend, and charge a small fee to set things up and maintain for other groups (it’s easier to hand over to someone when things are already set up — less daunting!)

A personal pet-peeve (primarily because of my former life being an event planner) is when I need to go to multiple places to find all information for an event being held by the group. If I see mention on the Facebook group about an event being held, that isn’t in my events listing on Facebook (seriously, it takes 2 mins to send an event through Facebook!) and I want to attend, I DO NOT want to go searching for event details throughout the Facebook group, emails and your website. Basic event details include:

  • Name of event
  • Date
  • Start time and anticipated end-time (if needed)
  • Location (including street address and city)
  • Cost for event, and payment method
  • Appropriate ages for the event, if it’s not “all ages”
  • If child care is available and for what ages
  • If there is a cost for parking

If you run a group, THANK YOU! I love attending groups and meeting new people. I know how hard it is, and how much time and effort goes into them because I organized and maintained them in my former professional life. It’s nice to finally see the other side of the coin when I’m the one attending, rather than organizing.

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