Growth and Growing Pains
BWI of Chicagoland has had enormous growth over the past year. In the first quarter of 2012, we had 14 meetings total. In the first quarter of this year we had 22 meetings! That is HUGE growth for our group. We’ve been working on adding new leaders, as well as answering questions on our closed, local, Facebook group. The Facebook group and frequent meetings have really been keeping everyone busy! Last June, our Facebook group had 415 people. We currently have 845 people as of today. We think this is FANTASTIC, but it has also been a bit overwhelming at times.
Why Does This Matter?
The group growth is great, and we LOVE to see so many folks in Illinois wearing their babies and children. We realized long ago that there are some unmet needs in Northern Illinois, but we weren’t at any point to focus on those areas. There is a large, uncovered area just west of our current activity that could use support as well. Over the past year or two, we have been getting a lot of requests to focus more westward, towards the Rockford area. We weren’t ready to make a move and tackle farther out. But now we are! Some of our current leadership team has decided it’s time to EXPAND and FOCUS on the outlying areas that seem to have a desperate need for support.
A New BWI Chapter!
We’d like to formally announce that a New Chapter, BWI of North Central Illinois, has been formed! It will focus on areas west of most of the current meetings. It will include Winnebago, Boone, Kane, Kendall, and Dekalb Counties. Tabitha, Rachel, Jacquelyn, and Christi will be the initial Volunteer Babywearing Educators (VBE’s) leading the new chapter.
The rest of us (Colleen, Heather, Janelle, Laura, and Susan) will continue with this current Chicagoland chapter, along with three new leaders we haven’t even had time to announce yet! The new leaders who will be helping us out a TON during this transition are Jenny Grant, Mary Haas, and Sara Stephenson. We’ll post more on them shortly, we promise.
We see this as a great expansion to the community that has grown in the northern part of Illinois.
Why make a new Chapter?
Well, we already cover a large geographical area. The Rockford area is about 90 miles from the City of Chicago if you map it on google maps. The new focus, including the Rockford area, is at least 30 miles west of the closest leader, and also over 35 miles west of the closest meeting we’ve ever had in McHenry County. Logistically, it is a smart choice.
What Does This Mean?
For some people, there will really be no observable change. If you are part of our group and ONLY have an online presence, it won’t affect you. The leaders who are becoming VBE’s for the new Chapter will still be active on our Facebook group, and we’re all SUPER excited about that. We’re all friends, and don’t want to lose that interaction together either. :)
Cook County and Lake County meetings won’t be affected by the new Chapter. The same leaders will still be coming to the current meetings, including Chicago, Mundelein, Gurnee, Northbrook, etc. Rachel will still be coming to many of Grayslake meetings, and we’ll have that one covered with other leaders as well. We also have some new folks in the pipeline who will be running those meetings very soon.
For people who have been yearning for the McHenry county meetings that went to the wayside… we are making a big push to get those re-established. We have a new leader in the area, and we have a few people in the pipeline who should be ready soon! It will be a primary focus of our group this summer. McHenry meetings and getting leaders ready for the Chicago meetings are our top two priorities.
People who have been visiting Christi and Jacquelyn in Sugar Grove or Sycamore will be affected. We see this as a good change. With a focus on some of the more western counties, they hope to expand and add additional meetings as their leadership team grows. The Kane/Kendall/DeKalb meeting that has been held in both Sugar Grove and Sycamore will move with the new Chapter, but you shouldn’t see any actual changes to the meetings themselves. They’re still going to have the meetings, the changes are more logistical and from our “behind the scenes” work and paperwork perspective.
The BEST Part?
We want and encourage you to attend any and all meetings near you, and feel free to participate in both groups. We’re hoping that both groups will be adding additional meetings and leaders in the near future. Though BWI members will need to pick which group to “borrow” from, everyone is welcomed and encouraged to attend any get togethers/ meetups/ playdates/ meetings that they can! The future looks bright, and we’re excited about all these changes. We hope they will be positive changes for all of you as well!
We will be working closely together, and are looking forward to such a great partnership.
There will be a flurry of activity in the near future. We ask that you please be patient as we adjust to the temporary decrease in number of leaders, as we work to get a few more leaders up and running.
Here is the website for BWI of NCIL: http://bwiofncil.blogspot.com
Here is the new Facebook group for the BWI of NCIL: https://www.facebook.com/groups/166083276892689/