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Planning My World Breastfeeding Week Celebration Changed My Life

Pat Johnston
Jacksonville FL USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 42 No. 4, October-November-December 2006, p. 85

I always knew I would participate in a World Breastfeeding Week Celebration (WBWC) during the LLLI 50th Anniversary year. Because I had no affiliation to a Group, I also knew I'd have to be a little creative.

My plan started to take form when my husband suggested I send donation appeal letters to the health care providers in our community—specifically pediatricians, midwives, and family practice physicians. I was a bit hesitant at first but agreed that since I wasn't involved with a Group, it would be the way to go. I used the Donor Incentive Flyer found on the LLL in the USA Web site and sent it to 75 health care professionals, along with a personalized letter and the brochure, WHAT IS LLLI?

While I was waiting for the letters to arrive, my husband and I kept having conversations about LLL. In my work as a District Advisor, I had been helping a pediatrician in the nearby community of Palatka, Florida, USA bring LLL information to the women in his area. Dr. Eric Jump is very enthusiastic and supportive of breastfeeding and La Leche League. Through email and phone conversations, I had been helping him start breastfeeding support group meetings in his office. About the time I was sending the letters to the health care providers in my area, I decided to ask my husband if he would drive me to Dr. Jump's office so that I could participate as a guest speaker at his support group meeting. My husband agreed, and I started preparing my meeting box. I had not led a Series Meeting in a year and a half, so I was feeling nervous.

As all of this was going on, I got my weekly phone call from my friend Melanie, who lives in Oregon, USA, where we used to live. I brought her up-to-date on what was going on in my life and mentioned that she could try to earn a Conference registration to the 2007 LLLI Conference, too, by raising $2,000 or more. She asked if I would like her to make a donation. I was thrilled and eagerly accepted her offer! As luck would have it, my mother-in-law tried to call while I was talking to Melanie. When she called again later, and I explained to her what I had been talking to my friend about. My mother-in-law offered to send me a donation as well! At that point, I was unbelievably happy.

The day arrived when we would be driving to the doctor's office for the breastfeeding support group meeting, where I was to be the guest speaker. At my suggestion, Dr. Jump and I agreed that I would run the meeting as a regular Series Meeting so that the mothers attending would know what Series Meetings were like. As we were driving to Palatka, my husband suggested I start leading regular LLL Series Meetings there since Dr. Jump really wanted to start a La Leche League Group in his community. I thought it was a good idea and was secretly thrilled that it was his idea. We arrived and received a very warm welcome. The meeting went very well, and afterwards the mothers who attended expressed that they really wanted to have a La Leche League Group in their community. We agreed to make the trip once a month, and everyone was pleased.

The next day, I received an email from Dr. Jump thanking us for our efforts, and informing me that he was sending a $300 donation for WBWC. I was so excited that I decided that it was time to start making calls to follow up on those appeal letters. I called a local coffee shop, and while the manager said he couldn't make a donation, he could give me a prize for a raffle or a silent auction. I took it! I also contacted my children's pediatrician and Dr. Ceron agreed to make a small donation.

I shared all of this wonderful news with my husband and we started talking about how little LLL support there is in our community. At the time, there were only two LLL Groups in the Jacksonville area; one on the west side and the other near the ocean. He suggested I start leading Series Meetings, too. I was surprised by his suggestion because he is the one who reminds me about "family first." I already have two positions on the Area Council and I did not want to give them up. He insisted that if we hosted the meetings at home and in the evening, we should be able to manage it. I loved the idea and so I got started on the paperwork to form LLL of Jacksonville.

While I don't think that I will be able to gather enough donations to earn a Conference registration, the experience and support I've received have validated my efforts.

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