You’ve gone through perhaps the most difficult time of your life—the death of a child from your family whether a son/daughter, sister/brother, or grandson/granddaughter. It is possible you found support through a chapter of The Compassionate Friends where others who had experienced a similar loss but were, perhaps, further along in their grief helped you survive a time you thought unsurvivable.
You may have continued with the chapter in some role in chapter leadership, gaining strength, helping others. Yet you also see the need for a chapter in another location—perhaps closer to where you live.
Starting a chapter of The Compassionate Friends is a wonderful way to honor the memory of the child(ren) who led you to TCF meetings and the friendships that you and others have shared as you’ve traveled a very difficult road.
Or it is possible you may have heard of The Compassionate Friends and feel there is a need for a chapter in your area.
Starting a chapter of The Compassionate Friends is a rewarding experience and a labor of love—one in which TCF’s national organization is ready to walk with you every step of the way. Who can start a chapter?
You must be at least 18 months from your grief and be a bereaved parent, adult sibling, or grandparent. We encourage co-leaders to share the work, but many chapters have been started by a single leader. Besides yourself, you will need 2-3 others who are also dealing with the death of a child and are committed to helping the chapter as a core group. Where can a new chapter be located?
The location where you wish to become established must generally be at least a 30 minute drive from the nearest TCF chapter. What costs are initially involved?
While there is a nominal startup fee to cover TCF National Office costs of helping you to get started, fundraising is important for the chapter to be able to cover costs such as a chapter library, chapter newsletter, and other associated costs. You should have little trouble in raising any starting fees necessary. Funeral homes, churches, and local businesses often will help if you just take the time to ask. What else must be done?
The first thing to do is to contact The Compassionate Friends National Office and request a startup packet which will explain the entire procedure and give you the paperwork you need to be on your way to establishing a successful chapter. We would suggest that you talk with Terry Novy, our Chapter Services Coordinator. She is always available to help you during the planning and startup period—as well as after the chapter is established. I’ve never been to a TCF meeting. Can I still start a chapter?
Absolutely! We’ll work with you every step of the way to help you through the steps necessary to be chartered, and help you to understand what a chapter must do to be successful, grow, and help the many who so desperately are seeking support through the toughest time of their lives. Is there training available?
Yes, every year The Compassionate Friends National Organization holds three Chapter Leadership Training Programs (CLTP). Each is held during a weekend in different parts of the country. One person from each chapter may attend at absolutely no charge except for transportation to the site. Additional persons from the same chapter may attend the same program, but there will be a nominal charge. The Chapter Leadership Training Program has been finely tuned with seven modules to help you with just about any operational aspect of your chapter. In addition, modules plus additional support workshops are included at the National Conference of The Compassionate Friends. There is even a workshop offered during the National Conference on how to start a new chapter. For more information, please call Terry Novy, Chapter Services Coordinator toll-free at 877-969-0010 or you can e-mail her at Terry@Compassionatefriends.org.