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One Leader’s Journey

Sherri Schafrath
Ashland County OH USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 41 No. 2, April-May 2005, p. 32.

After giving birth to my son, Nathan, I found myself continually calling the lactation consultant from the hospital. She suggested that I speak with Mary, the Leader of the local LLL Group. Mary urged me to attend a meeting. Nathan was two months old when I attended my first meeting at LLL of Medina, Ohio, USA. It was very enlightening and uplifting! What I remember most is that Mary and Karen, the Leaders, seemed so impressed with how my son was thriving on my milk. He was an extremely chubby little boy (20 pounds at three months) who got nothing but my milk. This was one place where I truly felt at home and felt that I was doing the right thing for my son. My only regret now is that I did not attend meetings sooner.

I continued to be a regular attendee at the Medina meetings for two years. In the meantime, my husband and I made plans to move to a small city, Ashland, Ohio, USA, which was about a 45-minute drive from Medina. Unfortunately, Ashland had not had an LLL Group for about 15 years. Since I had become so enamored with LLL and the support I received, I decided that I would become a Leader and start a Group in Ashland.

When my son was two years old, I became a Leader Applicant. Because I was moving and because I liked the Associate Coordinator of Leader Accreditation's idea of working with another LLL Group to see a different style and set of people at work, I started to work with the Wayne County Group. This Group was a lot different. Though it took me a while to get used to the Group's style, it helped me see a new point of view. I was with that Group as a Leader Applicant for a year, and as a Leader for a year before I started the new Group in May of 2000.

The new Group was an immediate success because it took its membership from a breastfeeding support group started by supporters from community organizations. I worked hard to get my flyers out to medical professionals and organizations in the community. I am happy to say the work has paid off after four years. Just a few months ago a Group member told me that my name was "all over the place." I am happy to know that mothers in my community know that I am there when they need me.

Being an LLL Leader means a great deal to me. I have LLL to thank for the wonderful start I had with both of my children. They are healthy and happy and very close to their father and me. I feel so fortunate to be able to share the wonderful feeling of motherhood with mothers in my community. I meet the neatest families and people because of LLL. I hope all of my enthusiasm about breastfeeding is "rubbing off" on the families I help.

When I first started out as a Leader, I wanted to be careful to not steer mothers "the wrong way." I took too much responsibility for their decisions. Now I realize that a decision is each mother's own. After I present the information she has requested, she can make a decision that is best for her and her family. It is so rewarding to know that I have helped many mothers by doing this.

I love the monthly reminders at meetings of what a great start my children and I had. Mothers at meetings who are enjoying their babies are beautiful. It is so worthwhile to see each unique pair interact in harmony over the months. I enjoy hearing each mother's account of her ideas and thoughts about breastfeeding.

I plan to remain a Leader for many years. Even though my children are older now, LLL leadership is still gratifying to me. It's wonderful to remember that the special relationships I have with my children started with a very intimate, beautiful beginning.

Sherri Schafrath has been an LLL Leader for almost six years. She and her husband, Mike, have two children, Nathan (8.5) and Amber (5.5). Sherri is currently teaching preschool part-time and writes, "I really love that age group." How did you find your LLL Group? Send your stories to Nancy Spahr at 174 E. Main St., Peru, Indiana 46970 USA; fax to 765.472.3889; or write NSpahr at llli.org (email).

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