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Interested Mothers' Workshop

from LEAVEN, November-December 1992, p. 92.
by Joyce Bussell Jensen Beach, Florida, USA

When I first became a Leader, I thought an Applicant was a mother who was "hand-picked" by Leaders in her Group. In my zeal to recruit new Leaders, I overwhelmed two Applicants and completely missed seeing the potential of other mothers. I am grateful that these women have remained my friends and still have a special place in their hearts for La Leche League, but I realize that I was trying to decide for them, rather than giving them room to explore the possibilities of leadership and decide for themselves.

Iris Merryweather, one of Florida's past Associate Coordinators of Leader Accreditation, gave me a suggestion that has had exciting results. It is called an "Interested Mothers' Workshop." Leaders can develop outlines or write to the Coordinator of Leader Accreditation for ideas.

In three years, we have held four workshops with an average attendance of five mothers. Our Group, which once had a lone Leader, now has four Leaders and two Leader Applicants. Seven women have become Leader Applicants after attending workshops. Over the years, we have adjusted our presentation to fit the needs of participants. We began holding our workshops at the playground in an effort to accommodate busy toddlers. As the Florida summer got hotter, we had fewer people attending, so we decided to try the church room we used for regular meetings. Attendance increased.

At first, we invited the mothers we thought would be interested by phone or postcard. We found this was time-consuming and awkward. Some of the women in our Group were upset when they discovered they hadn't been included in this special meeting. Now, we hold an Interested Mothers' Workshop at least once a year during one of our Evaluation Meetings. We type a notice at the beginning of the year, with the workshop included on the schedule of enrichment topics, and distribute it to all the mothers at each meeting. We became comfortable with this general invitation when we realized that the information benefits all of us. Anyone interested in breastfeeding and La Leche League profits from knowing how Leaders help mothers and what the accreditation process involves. The mothers who attend also enjoy our discussion of La Leche League philosophy and usually go on to read more about it from selections in the Group library.

We do not bring Application Packets to the Interested Mothers' Workshop. Instead, we hand out "Becoming a La Leche League Leader" (No. 4) to everyone who attends. We are sure to say that anyone who is interested in leadership needs to arrange to meet individually with a Leader to talk in more detail about La Leche League philosophy and the responsibilities of a La Leche League Leader.

Originally, we presented the Interested Mothers' Workshop in two sessions. Because we experienced very low attendance for the second, we decided to reduce our outline so it can be covered in one meeting. We present four topics: each takes 15 to 20 minutes, and then we have questions and answers. The topics include:

* La Leche League philosophy: explore the concepts
* A Leader's responsibilities: which are basic, which optional
* Why become an LLL Leader: what Leaders enjoy most, making a difference, learning and practicing new skills, friendship
* The La Leche League Leader's resources: "the goodies beside the Leader's telephone," La Leche League's support structure.

This article was originally published in Florida's "Baby Beams."

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