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Finding or Starting a Local Support Group

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EmpowHER.com provides a valuable community for sharing ideas. Some of us go further and form a local, face to face community for our specific issues.

For example, maybe you're on dialysis. You may find that your friends and family don't know what to say to you, don't understand what you can and can't do and generally don't have a lot of empathy because they haven't been there. A support group provides a way to make new friends who can relate to your situation. My friend Joni James of Austin formed a group for singles over 40, many who are survivors of divorce, to support and socialize with each other. Here's what Joni has to say:

“Support and community in life are always important. But when it comes to having chronic pain from injury, illness or emotional trauma, a like-minded community can be a powerful tool to offer support, healing and acceptance in many ways. Speaking with others with a similar condition helps people to not feel so isolated, fearful or depressed. There is great comfort in being understood. Many tips and tricks can be shared to support one another. Friendships and community occur through support groups and that contributes to quality of life.”
If you can find information you need on EmpowHER.com, then you have enough computer skills to find or start a support group using Internet tools. Joni used the Meetup.com Web site. The cost is roughly $15 per month for a Website complete with a calendar, message board, profiles, individual and group email systems. Just follow the directions step by step to input your information. There's an easy setup for collecting dues from your members so they can help you pay the website costs, and even your salary if you decide to make this a for-profit project. Meetup.com will provide initial marketing for you by announcing your Meeetup to all its member (thousands!).

And while you're on the Internet, check out other resources for social support. For example, there is a web site offering dialysis-friendly cruises. Another site shows you the top cities for people interested in dialysis social groups.


Example of a Meetup.com group:

Dialysis meetup cities:

Dialysis friendly cruises:

Linda Fugate is a scientist and writer in Austin, Texas. She has a Ph.D. in Physics and an M.S. in Macromolecular Science and Engineering. Her background includes academic and industrial research in materials science. She currently writes song lyrics and health articles.

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Thanks, Pat! This is valuable information. Keep up the good work!

December 23, 2009 - 6:19pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Hi Linda - I've been involved with support groups for some time, and find them invaluable. Being able to "talk" with others, whether online or in person, leads to a wealth of additional information and resources.

I belong to four international groups related to a chronic illness I live with - it's a rare condition so finding people locally to form a group would be difficult. Despite the geographical differences I find the need for information that goes above and beyond what's available from medical professionals is common to all of us, and people share their experiences for the benefit of others.

On a community level I've helped form, lead and moderate job support groups for more than six years. We have used free services such as Yahoo Groups and LinkedIn Groups. I've learned over time that it's important to develop guidelines and moderate these groups as there are plenty of non-related parties who see them as rich targets for promoting their businesses, political agendas and even scams. Deciding the focus of the group, and sticking to it, helps maintain the value and helps in bringing in new members.

Support groups provide a lot of good benefits to members. Thanks Linda for bringing up this topic! Pat

December 23, 2009 - 6:01pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.