Our group (no matter what the name) will always offer meetings free of charge to anyone and everyone who would like to come! We will always be focused on advocacy and support and we will never be a members only club. No dorky '80's jackets, secret handshakes, or money will ever be required to attend a meeting.
So, what does it mean? Well, one of the biggest advantages the leadership team saw was a sense of legitimacy that being associated with a national organization would bring to our group. We have big dreams of working with healthcare professionals, the health department and other organizations to further our goal of making sure every caregiver we can possibly reach is aware of the benefits of babywearing as well as the support and encouragement our group provides. We believe that having the backing of a national organization will help us in that endeavor.
Being able to have members certified as Volunteer Babywear Educators (VBEs) is another advantage. Although we firmly believe that a safe, happy baby is the highest accomplishment, there are certain settings where letters behind your name go a long way. It's also a great way for folks who want to expand their skills and challenge themselves to do so. And a VBE isn't the only step. You can bet some of us are already looking at the next level we can achieve.
Babywearing International takes care of all the paperwork involved in being a non-profit and also carries insurance that covers the VBEs while they are working in that role. They advocate for babywearing on a national level and offer support to the individual group leaders.
One of the most fun parts though will be International Babywearing Week (IBW). This is in the fall and we will start planning here very soon! IBW is an entire week, sponsored by BWI, where babywearing groups from around the world come together and celebrate. There will be a theme and and carrier companies have been known to donate carriers and accessories to the lending libraries.
So... that's what Chapter status means for the group, what about you? Well, the main thing BWI asks of the Chapters is to encourage their members to join the national organization which is a yearly fee of $30. As many other Chapters have done we have decided to make borrowing from the lending library a benefit of membership. So, instead of paying $5 each time you check out a carrier, you'll be able to pay $30 for the whole year. Think of it as 50% off. If you checked out a carrier every month for a year, that would be $60. Now you can check one out every month for only $30. And half of all membership dues stays right here with BWI Charlotte!!! So, the more members that join, the more carriers we can add to the library!!!
I want to make it clear that we will always have the library with us at meetings and the carriers will always be available to look at, play with and try on! Only the procedures for borrowing carriers has changed.
Hopefully you guys are as excited as we are!! There are great things on the horizon.