At some point along our grief journey, we begin to regain some energy and desire to reach out and help other bereaved families. If, and when, that time comes for you, please know that there are unlimited ways in which you can help.
Some things can be done without ever leaving your home while others involve more of a time and energy commitment.
Remember, unless you take good care of yourselves and family, you will not have the emotional and/or physical stamina to take care of others.
If you wish to volunteer, please contact any member of the chapter Steering Committee.
The Steering Committee
Each chapter of The Compassionate Friends is governed by a Steering Committee made up of that chapter’s members.
The Steering Committee members are sort of the butterflies of Spring. They are folks who have attended chapter meetings for some time and who have come to understand the important role the chapter support group played in their own bereavement process.
They have passed through enough grief process to begin to emerge from their cocoons and approach life again. They are ready to do the things it takes to keep the chapter active and make these meetings happen.
They open up the meeting place, make the coffee, get the library and the name tags ready. They plan special events and the Candlelighting Ceremony in December.
They also particpate in publishing a newsletter, acknowledging donations, returning phone calls, keeping us in communication with the national organization, connecting TCF with businesses and professionals in the community and making our presence known in the community.
The Steering Committee for a chapter is organized as follows. Note that not all chapters have a member in each position. These are the recommendations from the National office of TCF. The Steering Committee usually meets at least once a month or four times a year and conducts the business of running a chapter.
Chapter Leader: Responsible for running a chapter meeting and the business meetings of the Steering Committee. The Chapter leader is the primary contact for executing all of the chapter business.
Secretary: Responsible for recording and publishing Steering Committee meeting minutes.
Treasurer: Responsible for the financial record keeping of the chapter.
Chapter Outreach: Send notes to families each month on their loved ones anniversary of death. Follow up phone calls to newly bereaved families after their first meeting. Retrieve information from the phone line voicemail and return calls and send information on a monthly rotation. “Reaches” out to the community at large. The “PR” agent for the chapter.
Library: Assist members with finding a book or returning a book. Catalog new books. Send notices for books not returned. Create cards for new books and put “in memory of” labels inside books. Gets someone to write a book review for the newsletter.
Refreshments: Bring ice, drinks and other refreshments. Arrive early to assist in room setup, make coffee, etc. Calls to remind those who have selected a meeting to bring goodies.
Greeter: Greet new families and assist them with paperwork. Should feel comfortable speaking with new families; helping to make them feel less awkward and scared of attending the meeting.
Fundraising: Are you great at convincing people to donate items or money? If so this is something you can do totally behind the scenes on your own timetable. We could use someone to donate money to purchase items for the library, brochures for outreach and packets, or sponsor memorial programs.
All of the volunteers should arrive at the meeting by 6:30 P.M. to assist in room setup; arranging tables and chairs, preparing food, setting up the library, and putting out other materials. They should also stay for a few minutes after the meeting to help put things away and to clean up the room(s).
There are chapter bylaws defining the positions in a chapter and the length of time for each position. These are elected positions though it is possible to have a chapter with only two members. In fact, that is how The Compassionate Friends organization started. With two families.
Feel free to contact any of them if you have questions or suggestions. Please feel free to join them at a Steering Committee meeting and lend a hand to the leadership of the chapter. After all this is your chapter.