“When you learn, teach. When you get, give.”
Every year at PMD Alliance, we train hundreds of support group leaders across the globe. Our In Sync!® Support Group Leader trainings are a pillar of our mission because we know how vital group leaders are to our community’s emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical wellbeing. If you’re unsure whether you’re ready to answer the call and be a support group leader, we believe in you and we have the tools to help you every step of the way.
We believe giving back to your community as a group leader is not only good for others, but good for you. Here are our top 6 reasons to rise to the occasion and become a support group leader:
1. You’ll deepen your sense of purpose.
“I read the book, It’s Not All About You, which helped me see how much supporting others gives meaning and purpose to life. I’ve found more joy and happiness in my life by doing so.”
-Roger, Sarasota Support Group Leader
The secret ingredient to feeling a deep sense of meaning in life is service. As you share your own experiences with your group, offer resources, and foster connection amongst your members, you’ll get to watch them grow, discover, and feel stronger on their journey. Helping feels good and it will have you waking up each day with a renewed sense of purpose.
2. You’ll experience meaningful connection and community.
“As a retired minister, I’m a natural leader and I just ‘fell’ into the role of support group leader. I really care about this group and feel cared for in many ways by its members, including spiritually.”
-Norma, Pittsburgh Support Group Leader
We are wired for connection. We often think leading a support group is about giving, but we have no doubts you’ll feel nourished, inspired, and cared for by your group, too. Community makes riding the waves of life far more fulfilling, whether the tide is high or low.
3. You’ll channel your skills to meet your community’s needs.
“I’m a yoga therapist and do not have Parkinson’s. I had students showing up for class that had Parkinson disease, so I started attending a PD support group to offer a mini-class to warm up the group. When the leader retired, I volunteered and am very honored to be part of the journey of all these heroes.”
-Donna, Folsom Support Group Leader
Leading a support group will call on you to use your unique talents and gifts where they’re most needed, often in unexpected ways. When you choose to become a group leader, you’ll find yourself at the intersection of your innate gifts and your community’s longing. You’ll get to bring out the best of you in service of others.
4. You don’t have to be the expert to lead.
“I wasn’t planning on becoming a support group leader. But if I hadn’t stepped forward, the group would have folded. I wanted to see it succeed.”
-Dave, Mission Viejo Support Group Leader.
Being a support group leader isn’t about being the teacher or the expert in the front of the room; it’s about facilitation. As a leader, your role is to empower others to learn, connect, and grow from each other. Everyone in attendance has something to offer, and you get to aid the flow of that experience. Don’t wait until you feel you know everything to become a leader; welcome in the opportunity now, exactly as you are, and lean on us for the tools and trainings to bolster your confidence and fuel your inspiration along the way.
5. You’ll use your experiences to help others.
“I cared for my father as his only care partner for the last 6 years of his life. I didn’t ask for help. I’m a support group leader now to help members not make my mistakes. There are great resources available. I hope I can help my groups find these.”
-Steven, Redwood City Support Group Leader
Life continually offers lessons – roadblocks on our path, mistakes, uncertainties, triumphs. As a support group leader, you can offer your personal experiences and lessons to support others on a similar path. Empowering others with lessons from the PD road will strengthen and prepare them and it will nourish you, too, transforming your challenges into gifts.
6. You’ll create a safe space of belonging.
“When we come across people who look like us from diverse communities at Parkinson disease groups or conferences, instead of the usual socialization you’d expect, there’s tears and, ‘Oh, my God, I’m not alone.’”
-Denise, Bay Area community leader
People with movement disorders don’t all look the same, come from the same cities, have the same family backgrounds or life experiences. By choosing to be a support group leader, you create a place where people with similar histories can recognize themselves and feel welcomed, exactly as they are.