In 2013, with the understanding that support groups are vital to people living with DM and their caregivers, MDF launched a significant effort to increase the number of our support groups both domestically and internationally. With the help of the community, we now have 14 support groups across the US and Canada. Join us in celebrating the people who brought these groups to life!
The MDF support group network provides opportunities for people living with DM and their caregivers to build friendships and learn from others with similar experiences. Community facilitators are central to the success of the network. The first three community members to launch support groups were Regina Thompson of Murfreesboro, TN; Carolyn Valek of Worthington, OH; and Kelly Lundy of Ottawa, Canada. Organizing a support group has been a rewarding and worthwhile experience for each of these women.
"The biggest surprise has been how much support I feel I receive from our wonderful attendees - in addition to how much I try to give out," explains Kelly, a home daycare owner whose husband is living with DM. "It feels like a win/win situation for me!"
"I never thought my brothers would enjoy the meetings as much as they do. They talk and share and just really enjoy themselves," says Regina, a nurse whose five brothers and nephew have DM.
Support group facilitators receive ongoing support, training and advice coordinated by former MDF Outreach Director, Leslie Krongold, Ed.D. This includes everything from notifying local community members of upcoming meetings, helping to find available meeting spaces, and organizing group topics and speakers. Leslie has been involved in support groups since her DM diagnosis 16 years ago, and her doctoral dissertation focused on support group facilitation.
"We're with you every step of the way," Leslie explains. "What's most important is to create a space and be available for whoever shows up, whether that's one person or a crowd. It's the quality of the experience, not the quantity."
More Support Group Facilitators Needed!
Current MDF support groups can be found across the US and Canada in both metropolitan and rural areas. As we continue to grow our network, new groups are planned in large urban areas such as New York City, Boston, San Antonio and Austin, and we need facilitators to lead these groups! Almost anyone can become involved - facilitators come from all different backgrounds and bring their own strengths to the process.
"I'm thrilled with the talent and budding leaders who have been discovered in our community," Leslie says. "We'd love to find new people willing to get involved."
For more information on starting a support group in your area, please contact MDF's Program Director Paul Formaker.