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Sharing the Gift of Breastfeeding

Hedy Nuriel
LLLI Executive Director
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 40 No. 6, December 2004 - January 2005, p. 122.

I want to wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season and a meaningful New Year. At this time of year we think about family and gift giving. In so many of our family traditions, it is a time when we remember those we care about. As Leaders, you are giving a gift every day. You are giving the gift of breastfeeding and the love that this special bond between mother and baby creates.

On January 5, 2005, I will have been at the LLLI Schaumburg office for one year. What a wonderful organization! When I first decided to take the job of Executive Director, I thought LLL was an organization that promotes breastfeeding. I can do that, I thought. I breastfed my sons; I believe in this cause. But after joining the organization, I found that it was so much more. It is a true gift to families—a gift that helps them bond. Having worked in the area of domestic violence for the past 23 years, I have seen what horrible things can happen in families. Not that La Leche League can immunize our families from this type of behavior, but it does help one to create a bond and a sense of security not found in many other relationships.

As you can imagine, so much happened in my first year at LLLI. I started by learning about LLLI, meeting staff and volunteers, including my first meeting with the LLLI Board. I was able to meet the Founders, too. I have also had the great fortune to meet many of you as I have traveled to different parts of the world.

In the Schaumburg office, we have established many new policies and procedures to help the organization run more efficiently. This included a major revision of the LLLI office personnel handbook. There were many business practices that had to be written down and approved. In addition, we have hired and trained more professional staff and installed a more efficient phone system. We have also been strengthening staff commitment to improve customer service in the LLLI office. I hope you have all seen the improvements.

We are working to become a more global, more distributed organization with Leaders around the world working together on projects and office staff supporting that work whenever possible. We have worked long and hard to get the LLL Community Network up and running. This is a tool that I hope will be used by Leaders around the world.

Plans are set for the next La Leche League International Conference, which promises to be exhilarating with a few new twists. Here are a few of the other thrilling things that have happened so far in my first year with LLL:

  • In February 2004, I attended the Eastern Division Staff meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. As this was one of my first introductions to Division staff, everyone was very patient with me and gave me lots of opportunities to meet with small groups to learn what different departments do, and how we can help them. That was my first real training on learning the alphabet soup of LLLI.
  • In March 2004, I traveled to Netherlands for the European Mastery Symposium. It was wonderful to meet so many incredible women and see the work they are doing in Europe. About 75 women attended, coming from Greece, Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic, Ireland, Great Britain, Austria, France, Belgium, Slovenia, Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Spain.
  • I attended several Area Conferences in the USA: Michigan, Illinois, Southern California/Nevada, and Washington State. At these meetings I had the privilege of meeting many young mothers (and fathers) and Leaders and Leader Applicants. That was my real introduction to the parenting that LLL represents. I was enthralled by the way parents interacted with their small children, by the number of children, and the quiet and peacefulness that was a part of these Conferences. And I had the privilege of meeting with Alumnae in Savannah Georgia, USA. What a wonderful group of women.
  • LLLI settled a lawsuit against Mothers Work and Fildan Accessories for the manufacturing and sale of a bra and clasp with the LLLI logo. This helped me to understand the importance of protecting our logo and trademark. Although the money we won was not great, the importance of safeguarding our "brand" is very significant.
    Leaders started a Van Fund so the old vehicle used at the LLLI Schaumburg office could be replaced. Many Area Conferences collected money to help us with this effort. A Leader in Illinois, USA then donated her used van, which allowed us some time to gather up enough money to buy a newer one.
  • We did some house-cleaning in the Schaumburg office, freeing up several extra rooms so that we could bring all our inventory from off-site to on-site storage. This is a considerable savings for us in delivery fees and storage rental.
  • To celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, the staff had a pot luck picnic and Walk. Leaders and children from the area joined us. We had games, a piñata, and a small silent auction. Staff raised $1,700!
  • In September, I was fortunate to attend the Conference in Latin America. About 75 Leaders attended, and also 35 husbands and about 80 children. It was incredible! So many wonderful Leaders from many countries are carrying out our mission.
  • In October 2004, I represented LLLI at a World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action Meeting in Costa Rica. This was the first time I had the opportunity to meet others from different breastfeeding organizations.

Throughout 2005 there is so much more to do as we help breastfeeding mothers. I look forward to the year to come as we continue to share the gift of breastfeeding with more mothers and babies around the world.

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