Have you always wanted to help out your local BWI chapter but aren’t very interested in teaching? There are many ways you CAN help as a Chapter Support Volunteer (CSV). Education may be the primary function of a BWI chapter but there is a lot of work behind the scenes that make learning possible. If you are unsure of what you could do to help your chapter besides becoming an educator, I hope the list below will help illustrate how crucial the CSV role is to every chapter.
Our chapter holds meetings twice a month. As a CSV, I assist in getting meetings scheduled based on the availability of our VBEs and other CSVs. I also help in securing a meeting location by making phone calls or filling out forms for room reservations. Finding a location that is centrally located, easily accessible, child friendly, and free is no easy feat. For chapters that hold several meetings a month, scheduling alone can be an enormously time consuming task.
CSVs are equally important as VBEs at meetings to keep things running smoothly. As a CSV, I help set up and tear down, greet anyone walking through the door, direct attendees on where to sign in, process carrier returns, help people sign up for memberships and process carrier check outs. For each person that I greet, I inquire what they hoped to get assistance with that day and then match them up to an educator that I know will best be able to assist them. I also answer any general questions that don’t fall under the umbrella of educating, such as questions about membership or the lending library. In the hubbub of a busy meeting, having a few volunteers to handle childcare can also be extremely helpful.
Another important aspect of our chapter’s educational services is through our social media accounts. For our chapter that primarily means maintaining our public Facebook page, moderating our chatter group and responding to comments or questions posted on the wall or sent via private message.
Social media is an important tool in not only enhancing the education we offer but also in building a community for our caregivers. If you have a passion for Pinterest or love posting selfies on Instagram, you can already do a lot to help build your local chapter’s community and online presence as a CSV by managing the chapter’s social media. Tasks for a CSV may include blogging, pinning resources on Pinterest, generating a hashtag for your chapter on Instagram, keeping your chatter group lively with weekly games, trivia, and posting fun graphics created on Canva with fun babywearing challenges and tips. The more our members interact with each other outside of educational meetings, the stronger your community and friendships will become.
Larger chapters may have a CSV dedicated solely to managing the their lending library by acquiring new carriers or selling ones no longer needed, checking library items for wear, washing or arranging repair of damaged items, managing warranty documents and updating myTurn inventory. I recently spent an afternoon photographing all the carriers in our library to use as our myTurn inventory photos and I will probably spend another afternoon uploading them all. We also keep track of the requests of our membership and community in a wishlist. The librarian can keep a sharp eye out for sales and lending library discount programs so that a chapter’s lending library can better serve the local community of caregivers.
Some chapters rely heavily on fundraising efforts in order to provide services to its community. Paid memberships may only help offset the costs of running a lending library as meetings often have additional costs in the way of room rental fees, refreshments and scholarships. Our chapter set up an Amazon Smile account so that anyone can help generate extra revenue for our chapter simply by making purchases on Amazon. If you have a flair for designing clever tee shirts you could set up and run a CafePress store for your chapter or organize a special fundraising event such as an auction, picnic or raffle.
Community and Outreach
Part of what allows a BWI chapter to survive and thrive is a strong community of babywearers behind it. A VBE must present for a meeting to be educational, but a CSV can organize playdates and other non-educational meetups for their community. Social support can be a boon for any caregiver and a babywearing group is perfectly set up to provide this invaluable resource.
Another important part of the mission of our organization is promoting the practice of babywearing and increasing accessibility for the practice. If you have ideas on how you can promote babywearing in your community, talk to your chapter leadership about what you could do to reach out to underserved populations in your area so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of babywearing.