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La Leche League International
To Find local support:  Or: Use the Map for current Alumnae information. This article is an archive of the Leaven Publication.

Conference Report: Tea for Two...or Seven Hundred?

Sue Steilen
LLLI Alumnae Association
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 41 No. 5, October-November 2006, p. 107.

The LLLI Founders Tea was a time during the Conference to share memories in a room full of elegance. Each table was decorated with a teapot donated for the occasion. The variety of teapots themselves evoked memories of a grandmother's house, decor from the past, or the personality of a special friend. From the little teaspoon favors, the beautiful program paper, the silk flowers and greenery, and the arrangement of the delicious food, everything was lovely.

The Tea was based on the theme, "Music from a Mother's Heart." Each Founder shared a memory connected to a song that she sang to her children, or a song that was sung at family gatherings, in the car, or at some time in her family's life. Selections included "Home on the Range," introduced by Mary White as a favorite song of her late husband, Greg, and "I Want to Hold Your Hand," a song that Mary Ann Cahill's family sang as they gathered up the smaller ones to walk hand in hand. We enjoyed singing along with talented vocalists Lu Hanessian, Ben Scheff, and Fred Scheff, and pianist Dotti Savoy. Using song sheets provided, attendees filled the room with smiles and musical memories.

The Tea was hosted by the LLLI Alumnae Association; it also served as an opportunity for the association to honor a Leader with the biennial Alumnae Award. The recipient for the 2005 Alumnae Award was Marjie Hathaway, who with her husband, Jay, and Dr. Robert Bradley founded the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth. Marjie recounted her story of obtaining the birth she desired by traveling to Colorado to achieve it, with Dr. Robert Bradley in attendance. What a remarkable story! Hearing her story, many were reminded of their own search for our ideal birth experience. And many would agree that their wonderful birth experience was due to the efforts of Dr. Bradley and Marjie Hathaway. Marjie and Jay went back to California and one phone call at a time, gathered support to change hospital policies and people's attitudes about childbirth. Her story is on the Alumnae Web site at

Then there was more music. Thanks to the efforts of past Alumnae Award recipient Barbara Nicholson of Attachment Parenting International, we were treated to a video of Billy Dean and his song "Let Them Be Little." Many especially liked the lyrics, "Let 'em cry, let 'em giggle, let 'em sleep in the middle, oh, but let them be little," and there was a scene with little ones sleeping in the middle. By the time the video was finished, the room was full of tears. The CD of this hit song can be ordered over the Internet and the video can be seen in some sites by searching for "Billy Dean Let Them Be Little." If you order a CD, please contact Janet Jendron at, because we are trying to measure the impact on CD sales of showing the video at the conference.

Recognition of Leaders who have served for 25 years or more brought a cheer to the room. There were more than 120 Leaders at the Conference who qualified. What a testimony to the lifelong benefits of La Leche League!

Concluding the Tea were more tears as we remembered those Leaders who have died. Even though the memories of these Leaders brought sadness to the room, we all can be encouraged that our lives were touched by Leaders, and we can touch the lives of others by encouraging them to breastfeed.

At the Tea, everyone took time to relax, connect with old friends, have fun, share memories, and be inspired to continue our work. Janet Jendron, the Mistress of Ceremonies, commented:

I was overwhelmed with the number of people who came up to me after the Tea to tell me how special it was for them and their families. People appreciated the attention to detail, the beautiful decorations, and the variety of experiences—from honoring a past Leader friend to singing a German lullaby, and seeing how a hit song does support our LLL ideals. They felt that the Tea was an oasis in the midst of a busy Conference.


Sue Steilen has been an LLL Leader for 17 years. She and her husband, Gary, have two children, Daniel (20) and Christopher (17). Sue is a Leader for the LLL of Homer Township/Palos Hills Group in Illinois and also volunteers with the Alumnae Association in planning the Tea and other Conference activities.

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