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Defining the Renewal Initiative Purpose Statement

From: LEAVEN, Vol. 38 No. 5, October-November 2002 p. 116.

In May 2001, the LLLI Chaordic Initiative Review Network asked the LLLI community to respond to a list of questions on the theme of "What is the heart of La Leche League?" Hundreds of Leaders responded. These responses were sent to the Drafting Team, who then distilled the common threads into a purpose statement draft. Below is the draft of the statement, with an explanation of some of the meanings of the terms used.

A purpose statement is not the same as a mission statement. A mission statement tells the world what we do. A purpose statement is a statement about "why"—the reason why the mission matters to us. The LLLI Mission remains the same. We invite each Leader to ponder this preliminary statement to explore how her own sense of our purpose fits and is contained within it.

The purpose that is emerging from the Drafting Team as part of the renewal inquiry is "to realize, deepen, and share the love and wisdom inherent in breastfeeding."

Each word in this purpose statement has its own possibilities of meaning and has possible meanings in the context of the phrase. While it is not necessary to study these meanings to get a sense of the purpose statement, the following definitions and examples provide background on why each word was used.


  • To be fully aware of; to comprehend completely. Example: Now that my baby is in my arms and at my breast, I realize what it means to be a mother and to love a child with all my heart.
  • To make real, to bring into reality, to make actual, to accomplish. Example: She finally realized her longing to connect with her baby through breastfeeding.
  • To make realistic, to impress as if actual, to feel vividly or strongly, to make one’s own in experience.


  • To obtain or achieve as gain; deepen.
  • To increase the depth of; to extend; to make more profound, more intense, stronger, more poignant or affecting. New experiences and feelings, discovery and learning are anticipated results of "deepening."


  • To participate in, use, enjoy, or experience jointly. Example: The circle of mothers shared the joy of her story about overcoming challenges to getting started with breastfeeding.
  • To distribute; to transmit; to relate (information or an experience, for example) to another or others. Example: The new mothers shared the stories of their first breastfeeding experiences with each other. Example: One mother shared information about comfortable and effective positions for breastfeeding.
  • To accord a share in (something) to another or others. As more and more mothers share the wisdom inherent in breastfeeding, this valuable resource is not diminished. Rather, it is distributed among more and more caring people throughout the world for safekeeping.

Realize, Deepen, and Share

While each of these verbs has its own meaning, as a group they have collective meaning as well. When the idea of the purpose is presented in other languages, one, two, three, or more verbs might be used to convey the overall meaning.


The model of a mother’s love for her own child is a starting point for a spectrum of connections through loving relationships: family attachments; friendship; unselfish and benevolent concern for the good of another, for the good of all. Concern for the well-being of others is connected to a desire to help other mothers experience the possibilities of mother-child love in a breastfeeding relationship. Hence, love is a basis for mother-to-mother help.


  • The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight; common sense; good judgment; intuitive truth.
  • The sum of learning through the ages; scientific and practical truth; accumulated knowledge.
  • Wise teachings; What’s the most direct source of wisdom for mothers? Babies. Mothers acquire wisdom by listening to their babies and responding to their babies’ needs.
  • Knowledge and the capacity to make due use of it; knowledge of the best ends and the best means; discernment and judgment; discretion; sagacity; skill; dexterity. Example: In her wisdom, she recognized how to use her technical expertise to create a safe environment for a mother and baby to establish their own mutually satisfying breastfeeding relationship, without injecting her presence into their achievement.


  • Existing as an essential constituent or characteristic; intrinsic.
  • Permanently existing in something; inseparably attached or connected; in the nature of something; innate; inalienable Example: The best elements of human relationships are inherent in the relationship of a mother breastfeeding her child.


Here, the word "breastfeeding" refers to the entire spectrum of possibilities, including and not limited to the physical delivery of human milk to a human child, a mother feeding her child suckling at her breast, the relationship that develops between a mother and her child who feeds at her breast, and metaphors for the physical act and relationship that develop from feeding a child at a mother’s breast.

As always, more information on the work of the Renewal (Chaordic) Initiative is available from resource Leaders around the globe and on the LLLI Web site at:

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