Support for Grieving College Students: How to Start a Local Chapter of Students of AMF

When faced with the added stresses and challenges of anticipatory grief and loss, college students are especially in need of campus-based grief support.  Living away from home for the first time, already struggling to establish autonomy from their families, and learning to cope with the academic and social pressures of college life, they need a safe place where they can meet with their peers, share their experiences of loss and process their grief.

The National Students of AMF Support Network is dedicated to supporting college students coping with the illness or death of a loved one, and empowering all college students to fight back against terminal illness.  To accomplish its mission, the organization helps students start local chapters nationwide.

If a student is interested in starting a local chapter of Students of AMF, here are the steps in the process, according to David Fajgenbaum, Co-Founder and Board Chairman of National Students of AMF Support Network:
The Process of Starting a Chapter of Students of AMF

1) Student learns about the organization from the Internet, media, or a supporter.

2) Student visits the AMF Web site, specifically Start a Chapter and fills in an inquiry about starting a chapter.

3) Chair David Fajgenbaum holds a Skype call with every interested student.  (Over the last five years, David and others at National Students of AMF have worked with students from over 160 different colleges and universities, having gained a tremendous amount of experience about the process of starting an official student organization, raising awareness on campus, and organizing and running deep, meaningful peer-led support group meetings and service events.)

4) After the Skype introductory call, the student is given access to extensive documentation on how to start up a strong, sustainable chapter that makes an impact on campus, including what to do during each phase to achieve this.

AMF breaks the process into four phases; each phase has information specific to marketing, organizational infrastructure, support group, and service group.

Phases include  
  • Student Inquiry or Phase 0
    • Student Interest or Phase 1
    • Official Chapter recognized by their university as an official student group or Phase 2
    • Leadership Transition or Phase 3.  When the founder or president is going into their senior year this sounds an alarm to make sure the infrastructure is in place to make sure the group is strong and sustainable for years to come after that leader graduates.
    For internal evaluation and reporting to our supporters, Official Chapter/ Phase 2 has been broken into three types: Active, Inactive, or Re-activating.
    • Active chapters hold two support group meetings per month during the academic year and they participate in at least one service project per semester.
    • Inactive chapters no longer have leadership on campus (for instance, due to graduation) or may be meeting and attending events, but not at our minimum standards listed above.
    • Re-activating chapters are chapters which were active at one point, became inactive, but have new leadership who want to start back the group.
    5) Each chapter is paired with a Chapter Coordinator from National Students of AMF (in addition to having David and the Executive Director to turn to) to help individual leaders as they move their groups forward through each phase.

    6) The National Students of AMF Executive Director contacts key personnel on campus (Campus Ministry, Counseling Center, Dean of Students, Student Health, etc.) regarding the organization.

    7) AMF provides direct financial support to each chapter to pay for start-up and maintenance costs, such as T-shirts/other promotional materials, flyers/other printing and copying needs, meeting space/travel to events, and food or drinks at meetings or receptions. The organization also gives each chapter instruction about how to apply for funds through their university.

    8 ) AMF holds conference calls twice a month with all of their chapter leaders; such calls are devoted to a specific topic, such as “Raising awareness about your group through Facebook.” During these calls, National Students of AMF shares best practices from our experience and the individual chapters share with one another about what they have done.

    9) AMF hosts a national conference annually called the National Conference on College Student Grief, to bring together chapter leaders, leaders in college student mental health, experts in bereavement, and interested college students, faculty, and staff. AMF pays for complete travel and stay costs for 1-2 student leaders per chapter and helps to pay travel expenses for each chapter’s faculty advisor. During this conference, chapter leaders break out for specific instructions and direction about how to start a chapter.

    Additionally, if there are any issues on campus with campus personnel, the Executive Director troubleshoots, along with campus leaders, and members of the Board of Mental Health Professionals become involved with advocating for the group, if necessary.

    As an official Students of AMF chapter, your school will:
    • Have a student-only environment where students grieving the illness or death of a loved one can meet and interact with others in a similar situation
    • Be part of a national network of campuses and students that address the specific issues that arise with grief during the college years
    • Have direct access to our national staff and volunteers, including other current and former chapter leaders
    • Have the opportunity to send chapter leaders to our national conference, with travel and lodging expenses subsidized
    • Receive up-to-date information on chapter best practices, bereavement support resources, and partner organizations
    • Provide opportunities for chapter members to gain valuable leadership skills in a variety of areas
    Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below.
    If you’d like Grief Healing Blog updates delivered right to your inbox, you’re cordially invited to subscribe to our weekly Grief Healing NewsletterSign up here

    No comments:

    Post a Comment

    Your comments are welcome!

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...