After just over a year of holding Helping Parents Heal meetings at Unity of Garden Park in Cincinnati, Tywana and I have come to the difficult conclusion that that is not the path for us right now. We discovered Helping Parents Heal not too long after Shayna passed. We drove to Columbu (two hours) s for our first meeting. There were four of us there; the two leaders, Tywana and me. A month later, they announced the Columbus group would no longer be meeting. We were willing to drive the two hours to meet with like minded parents going through the same thing, but apparently not a lot of people were.
Around this same time, we had a vacation in Phoenix, AZ where Elizabeth Boisson, the co-founder of HPH lives. We were interested in being part of the organization and since there were no longer any affiliates in Ohio or Kentucky, we saw this as an opportunity for us to serve by becoming affiliate leaders. We decided to take a few months to publicize our group before holding our first meeting. We printed up flyers that we distributed to hospitals, churches, the funeral home that handled Shayna’s services, and anyone else we could think of. We submitted a release to local newspapers. We secured an interview on a local radio show.
In the months that have passed since then, Tywana and I have sat in the room alone as often as we’ve had people actually in attendance. It’s not about the numbers, but the most we had in a meeting was probably about five or six parents. We were willing to be there for one. But, being there, holding a space for no one doesn’t make lot of sense.
A couple of weeks ago I emailed the list of people who had attended. I asked if they would prefer another day, another time, another location, or if they were just not interested in meeting face-to-face. Two of the people who have attended are very active in our on-line group. Only one person wrote me back. She said she’d be more likely to attend if the meetings were closer. I don’t know exactly where she lives, but the meetings are about 25 minutes from our house. I think they’re probably 35-40 minutes for her. Oh well…
So, I reluctantly contacted the church that has given us the space and told them after this coming Sunday we would no longer need the space. I termed it “suspending” the meetings rather than cancelling them because I am hopeful with almost 10,000 people in the national organization and over 1,800 in our on-line group, we will someday have demand for the local meetings.
It feels like a failure. But, we do what we can do. We held the space. I know we helped some people. Even if we helped only one, it was worth it. No regrets. But, it’s time to shut it down.
Tywana and I have already taken on a new role. A couple of months ago, we became co-leaders for the on-line group. We’ve already had more than half a dozen very successful on-line meetings, the last one topping out at over 125 people. I’m experimenting with offering an on-line class. I expected maybe a dozen people would sign up. So far dozens have expressed interest.
One door closes, another opens. Isn’t that just the way it is?