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Enrichment Meetings: Prospecting for Future Leaders

Marie Beam
Kensington, Maryland, USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 36 No. 2, April-May 2000, pg. 32

When a mother's breastfeeding questions have been answered and her initial needs have been met at our meetings, often she simply stops coming. After attending a full series, she has learned enough about breastfeeding to handle most difficulties that might arise. Her focus and time now turn to classes, a playgroup for her growing child, or a mother's group. On the one hand, it's gratifying to reflect that we have met this mother's needs and helped her move on. On the other hand, though, the absence of the knowledgeable, experienced mother represents a loss to the Group's vitality and to the future of LLL. How do you keep this mother interested in coming to meetings after her initial needs have been met? Enrichment Meetings!

If you have never tried them, Enrichment Meetings may seem like just an extra monthly meeting that adds to the burden of an already overworked Leader. They are extra work, but only at first, and the payback may surprise you. The beauty of Enrichment Meetings is that they build the enthusiasm of other mothers to contribute to the Group. They fill an important gap, helping meet the needs of mothers of older babies and toddlers. They offer the perfect opportunity to ask a Group member to take on a job at Series Meetings, and they give you a chance to get better acquainted with someone who might be a potential Leader Applicant.

As the LEADER'S HANDBOOK (1998 ed., p. 126) notes, the introduction of enrichment topics "can add an extra spark of enthusiasm to the Group," fostering close contact among Group members and an appreciation for the support that LLL provides. A Group may choose whether they prefer unstructured socialization and discussion, a topic led by a Group Leader, or a discussion led by a Leader Applicant or Group member. A combination of these different styles may also be used.

Mothers enjoy having an opportunity to get together and discuss breastfeeding related issues that are not limited to the four Series Meeting topics. On page 271 of the LEADER'S HANDBOOK is a list of suggested enrichment topics. Mothers in my Group have particularly enjoyed relevant topics such as "long-term nursing," "handling anger," "dressing for discreet nursing," "motherhood stress," and "sex and the lactating woman." Where else but at a La Leche League meeting can mothers discuss such things?

Even if you are feeling overwhelmed by your Leader responsibilities, I hope you will give Enrichment Meetings a try. They offer a chance to build a team to share your workload. And at the same time, they offer you an opportunity to sit back and enjoy some fascinating conversations with some of the most interesting women you know.

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