Thursday, April 30, 2015

1st Annual Babywearing Gala Member Meeting Minutes


Thank you so much to everyone who came out to our 1st Annual Babywearing Gala. I feel so lucky to have such an incredible and supportive group of attendees, members, and volunteers that make BWI of Cleveland such a success. I’ve received several requests for a copy of the member meeting minutes, so here it is!


Introductions and Recognitions
My name is Alicia Moellenkamp, and I am the current president and founder of BWI of Cleveland. I founded and ran two babywearing groups in Houston, Texas prior to moving to the Cleveland area in September 2012. When my family moved up here I lost the support system of mommy friends that I had developed in Houston. So I decided to do what I knew and start a babywearing group to foster the same community and support system I knew and loved. This is when North East Ohio Babywearers, which would later become Babywearing International of Cleveland, was born.

At this point in the meeting, and also in this post, I would like to take a moment to recognize all of our volunteers and team who made not only this event, but also our quickly growing group a success! I would specifically like to recognize our fabulous Board of Directors:
Jessica Shattuck Vice President of Membership
Katie Krueger Vice President of Outreach
Katie Abell Vice President of Libraries
Erin Fabian Vice President of Education
Sarah Miller-Fellows Vice President of Marketing
Emily Gold Vice President of Treasury
I would also like to recognize our outgoing Vice Presidents and Educators:

Karyn, Brenda, Amie and Acacia
Brenda Flanagan has been such a huge support to this group from before our first meeting! She has graciously allowed us to use her church, has been there for every single meeting at that location, and volunteered as a VBE for us when she saw us really floundering with new members and not enough educators. She’s recently decided to turn her focus more to behind the scenes work and has decided not to continue as a VBE. We will miss her teaching terribly, but are so excited to see what magic she can work up behind the scenes for our group. She is also the mama behind all of the beautiful wrap scrap creations you see for sale at meetings and events.

Karyn Tankersley has been an active and enthusiastic member of our group since our first meeting. As a new twin mama she found babywearing out of desperation. She quickly stepped up into the role of educator, and has attended several meetings a month for the past year and a half. Her support and encouragement have been invaluable to me. She is also our outgoing VP of membership, and has recently decided to turn her efforts back to more teaching. Although we will miss her contributions to our BoD, we look forward to seeing what she will do from here!

Amie Kanengeiser also found our group prior to our first meeting. She attended with her toddler and was such a bubbly and joyful person to be around we quickly asked her to consider teaching and we were thrilled when she accepted. She has put forth countless hours as our VP of Marketing in building our blog, website, Facebook page, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts. She has also recently decided to step down as the VP of Marketing to fill the role of Social Media Manager since managing the various websites is requiring a significant amount of time in and of itself. A huge thanks goes out to Amie for making our online presence so wonderful.

Now is time for a quick report from the desk of a few of our Vice presidents:

Emily, VP of Treasury: A summary of Quarter 1 financials:

Membership ($10 remittance) $1610 [$550 to BWI, $1060 to BWICle]
Promotional (25% remittance: fundraisers, workshops, consultations, promo items, solicited donations) $543 [$136 to BWI, $407 to BWICle}
Donations (10% remittance, unsolicted) $0

Total 2015Q1 remittance = $686
Total 2014Q1 remittance = $120

Carriers $1530
Non-Carriers (marketing, fundraisers, pass through, reimbursement) $710
PP/CC fees $123
Gala deposit $200
Remittance (2014Q4) $870

This next year we will be working to switch over to a better budgeting system where money brought in during one quarter doesn’t get spent until the following quarter instead of spending money as it comes in.

Sarah, VP of Marketing: Our marketing efforts began in February of 2014 with the creation of our blog, website, and Google+ account. We also ordered lawn signs, banners, business cards, and T-Shirts. In July of 2014 we officially named Amie Kanengeiser as our Vice President of Marketing and she did a full redesign of our business cards. Through out the next few months we started our Instagram account and our Pinterest board, as well as bringing on a team of Social Media volunteers to monitor and work on our various accounts and websites. In March of 2015 we transitioned Amie to the role of Social Media Manager, and brought in Sarah Miller-Fellows as the new VP of Marketing. As of this current month we have reached 1,819 members of our private facebook group, 577 “likes” to our public facebook page, 353 instagram followers, and 102 pinterest followers! This is in addition to those who have found us through our website and blog! In this year we will continue our marketing efforts in a number of different ways. We are in the process of creating new member packets of info to hand out at our meetings, we are working with local pediatrician’s offices and hospitals to have our info distributed to their patients. We are also working hard to expand BWI of Cleveland’s presence at parenting fairs and events like the March of Dimes walk, and coming up Lakewood’s One Life, One Voice, One Community, as well as many others.
Erin, VP of Education: In the past year we’ve added 13 new VBEs, we have 9 trainees, and 7 new volunteer assistants. We’ve also switch over to a training cohort system that cycles quarterly. Applicants and trainees, enter their cohort group, train and prepare together, attend a final full day training session, and the submit their applications to National. In the next year we also hope to have a variety of different bilingual educators join our team!

Katie, VP of Libraries: Over the past year we’ve put in countless hours building our library and organizing and streamlining the library systems. We’ve grown our library to 273 different carriers, and split it into three regional libraries of approximately 90 carriers each to make the library more accessible to our members and more manageable for transportation to and from meetings. we’ve also appointed three different regional librarians: Kaylee Collins (West), Karyn Tankersley (East), and Sabrina Lacny (South). In the past 12 months we have had 592 carrier check outs! We’ve also organized and streamlined the entire library process and provided tracking and accountability for the library carriers. We also started a service to clean, repair, break in, and help members sell their own personal carriers. We are also starting the process and working with the national BWI organization to move over to a brand new automated system hosted by The Babywearer Forum. And finally, we’ve created a new training and teaching library to help the VBEs in training learn and practice without removing carriers from general circulation.

At this point I would like to take a minute to recognize another very key important volunteer in our group: Acacia Mo. Acacia started our VBE training program, and built it from the ground up in preparing it for Erin to take over. She then stepped in when I decided I would like to step down from presidency and took over as president of our group until just recently. Not long ago Acacia turned her eyes towards our governing organization and is now running one committee and serving on a second committee. She also has a few more applications out for different positions and is already working on some absolutely phenomenal things within the national organization. I feel so lucky to have her to work along side me, and support not only our group but also me in our projects and endeavors.

This past year our group has grown exponentially. We’ve changed up some of  our existing meeting locations, and added a few more. We are now meeting in seven different location across the city each month. We’ve also added numerous new VBEs and volunteers to support not only these locations but also our outreach events.

This next year we look forward on working with our VP of Marketing and VP of Outreach to start regular Babywearing 101 classes and distributing promotional materials within more hospitals and doctor’s offices. We also look forward to partnering more with local retail store owners to distribute materials with them, and hopefully facilitate a few workshops. As previously mentioned, we are also planning on participating in more festivals and similar events across the city. Finally, we are working to partner with a variety of different lower income organizations like Wic to make our presence more known in the different underserved communities in Cleveland and make our resource more attainable to those families.

Thank you again to everyone who came to the Gala, and those who have supported our chapter over the past year!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What to Expect at a BWI of Cleveland Meeting

BWI Volunteers:

BWI of Cleveland is very lucky to have a large group of volunteers to help at our meetings! When you arrive, you’ll meet:

- Chapter Volunteers and VBEs in training that will help you get signed in and who can answer your questions about the meeting, Babywearing International, membership in our chapter, and the lending library, among other things

- Volunteer Babywearing Educators (VBEs) (wearing orange headbands) who have been trained and tested to demonstrate and teach safe babywearing practices.
**Please note that the only VBEs may provide babywearing instruction and that peer to peer teaching (including teaching by volunteers and VBEs in training) is not permitted.**

First 30 minutes: Welcome! Come on in and get comfortable :)
You'll sign in, return library carriers, get settled, and chat with our volunteers and other caregivers! This is a great time to meet new people and visit with those you've met before!

After about 15 minutes, your Volunteer Babywearing Educators (VBEs) will run through a short safety discussion, demonstrate the different types of carriers, and do introductions. They will ask you if there is something specific you came to learn in order to create workshop groupings that will help the greatest number of people at one time. If you haven't come with anything specific in mind to learn, or you're here purely to socialize, that's great, too!
**It is our policy that all carriers that have been borrowed from the lending library be returned in the first 30 minutes of the meeting to avoid being charged the late fee of $10. This ensures that all of our carriers will be available for every attendee’s use during the meeting.**

Next 45 minutes- 1 hour: Small Group Instruction
This time is reserved to teach specific skills that your VBEs have chosen to meet the needs discussed in the intro. They will create stations where a group will all learn the same skill together.  If time permits, VBEs will also be available for more specialized instruction during this time.

***Keep in mind that we are all moms and caregivers and our children come first! Don't hesitate to step away if your child needs a break, diaper change, snack, etc. You may want to bring a favorite small toy for your child to hold while you're practicing. We also have weighted dolls for you to use if your little one is napping/playing/doesn't want to go "up." Remember, too, that it is always appropriate to interrupt a VBE or chapter volunteer if their child needs their attention!***


Last 30 minutes: Carrier Checkouts
Feel free to reserve a carrier at any point during the meeting, but please wait until the last 30 minutes so that to actually check it out of the library! This gives all caregivers a chance to see and compare all of the carriers we have to offer.
If you have specific needs that have not yet been addressed, please see a VBE during this time so that we can help you!

-Do I have to pay to come to your meetings?
Nope, our meetings are free and open to the public! Any caregiver can come to a meeting, explore the different carrier options in our lending library, and learn how to wear their child safely. If you’d like to borrow from our library, you can become a member of BWI for $30 for the year and take home one carrier each month!
-Can I become a member at my first meeting?
Yes! We accept cash, checks, credit/debit cards, and Paypal. Please note that there is a small processing fee for credit/debit cards and Paypal payments.

-Do I have to arrive right at the start of the meeting/stay the entire time?
In a word, no- although we prefer that you are present for introductions and the safety demonstration! We must be certain that you know how to use our carriers safely before we can loan one to you. So, feel free to come at any time throughout the meeting, but please do respect our guidelines and make sure that you return any borrowed carriers within the first 30 min of the meeting and wait until the last 30 min before checking out. 

-Can I bring my other children to the meeting?
Of course! Children of all ages are welcome at our meetings. You may wish to bring a small, quiet activity or toy to keep them occupied while you're learning.

-What should I bring with me to the meeting?
We suggest that you bring any carriers that you're interested in learning to use, and one or more quiet toys or activities to keep your child(ren) happy while you're learning. You may also wish to bring a blanket for your child to sit/play on and any other wraps/carriers that you'd like to share with the group! Our volunteers usually bring their personal "stashes" of carriers to share-- it's a great way to see different fiber blends and carrier options!

-Can I come to a meeting before my child is born/ without my child?
Sure! We have weighted demo dolls available for you to use.

-What do I do if I have a special situation or need more one on one help?
We love to provide one-on-one instruction and will do so as much as is possible! Unfortunately, meeting size often makes it difficult to work one on one for an extended period of time. If you need more hands on help, please sign up for one of our upcoming workshops or take advantage of our personal consultations!

Please check the Events Page for a detailed list of all our Monthly Instructional Meetings and Upcoming Events!  We can't wait to see you there! 
written by
Katie Krueger, VP of Outreach and VBE