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Making the LLL Leadership Application Affordable

Susan Moore
Spring Branch, TX, USA
From: Leaven, Vol. 45 No. 1, 2009, p. 8

Laura, a local LLL Leader, had noticed Mary, a mother in the Group over the last few months. As Laura recognized Mary's contributions to LLL and her warm rapport with other mothers, she began getting to know her further through discussions regarding LLL philosophy, the prerequisites to applying leadership, and the application work involved. Their excitement grew as they each perceived the agreement between Mary's personal philosophy and experience and LLLI philosophy and Concept Policy Statements (LLLI Policies and Standing Rules Notebook, Appendix 17).

The only impediment to Mary's application and the fulfillment of the plans she had begun to anticipate were the application expenses. Mary was worried that she would have to abandon her plans to become a Leader, since her growing family barely made it from paycheck to paycheck. They simply could not afford any extras. Discouraged, Mary sat down with Laura to discuss the situation.

"Okay," Laura said, "let's look at this again. I've been asking some questions, and with your enthusiasm and some creative thinking, we may have some options we hadn't considered before. First, you are already a member -- a prerequisite to the application -- and luckily a big first financial step already accomplished. Second, although you have read the library copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, you will also need to own a copy of the latest edition. Anna (Laura's co-Leader) and I agree that the Group treasury can support you by making a gift of a copy of the 2004 edition of The Womanly Art. Your help in our World Breastfeeding Week fundraiser is part of why we are able to make a bulk purchase of the 2004 edition in the first place! We are also open to paying for your Leader's Handbook from the Group treasury, if you can afford to contribute the cost of your application fee. If you decided at any point to discontinue your application, you would return the Leader's Handbook to us for use in another application."

Mary was quiet for a moment. Laura waited for her to consider this new information.

"Fifteen dollars doesn't sound like much, but it is a lot to us," she shook her head.

"What about setting aside half this month and half next month?" Laura offered. She saw a glimmer of hope pass over Mary's face.

"I think I could set a goal for doing that and work toward it, but what about The Breastfeeding Answer Book? Won't I need to own that?" Mary questioned.

"It can be very helpful to own it, and you might want to think about doing that later. For example, you might consider buying it later on in your application to get the discounted price if you get a sudden windfall or birthday check. Keep in mind that neither reading nor owning The Breastfeeding Answer Book is required. It can be a convenient resource; however, you can also find any necessary information in The Womanly Art and other LLL pamphlets and tear-off sheets. Between Anna and me, we have most of the pamphlets and tear-off sheets you can use to enhance your preparation."

Laura held out a copy of the Breastfeeding Resource Guide. "Here, take a look at this copy. There are references to The Womanly Art, pamphlets, or the Leader's Handbook for each section."

Mary felt her original excitement rekindle and grow. This might just be a dream she could pursue after all. "That leaves the accreditation fee," she thought out loud.

"It does," Laura responded. "Your application work will take some time and Anna and I have another idea we're working on. We realized that there are one or two other members who might be interested in applying for LLL leadership in the coming months, and they may well need some assistance also. Lots of families have needed to tighten their financial belts a bit lately and we don't want that to keep them from becoming tomorrow's LLL Leaders. We'd like to hold a rummage sale in a few months as a Group fundraiser. We hope to make enough money to buy a Breastfeeding Answer Book and a reference set of the pamphlets and tear-off sheets for the Group Library so you can all have access to them and they will be available to other members in the Group as well."

Laura leaned forward and continued, "The money to pay your accreditation fee could be set aside from the proceeds of the sale. Would you be willing to co-chair the project?"

What a difference 30 minutes made in Mary's life. She could hardly believe her ears. She went from having resigned herself to the financial impossibility of applying for leadership, to seeing that dream become a reachable goal.

Laura knew how much Mary could mean to La Leche League. In another place, another time, Mary's application may have stopped, but Laura saw tomorrow in Mary and through her own enthusiasm, research, and creative thinking helped Mary bring tomorrow home.

Though the names and details of this application are fictional, the Leader Accreditation Department sometimes receives applications from members in similar positions. With some research and communication, Leaders can help an interested mother reach her goal of affording the application expenses involved in applying for accreditation as an LLL Leader. They will enjoy the benefits of having an enthusiastic co-Leader as well as having played a part in securing La Leche League for future mothers and babies.

Perhaps you and your co-Leaders might also consider supporting a Leader Applicant for another LLL Group where funds may be less available. If you can donate a Leader's Handbook (2003 edition), The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (2004 edition), or the cost of an application fee, please contact your local Coordinator of Leader Accreditation (CLA). It is nice to know that one La Leche League Group can make a difference with far-ranging effects for a new Leader Applicant, either locally or in another Group, and for the breastfeeding families she will support.

The financial cost to the Group in supporting Mary's application was $28 (US): $12 The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, purchased in bulk, and $16 for the Leader's Handbook.

The cost to Mary for her application was $15 (US) for the application fee. The proceeds from the rummage sale fundraiser covered the $40 (US) accreditation fee.

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