New Hope for Women is an organization that aims to end domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking in order to create a safer and healthier tomorrow. Other than helping the individuals -- mostly the youth – who suffer from these abuses, it also extends help to LGBT members, elders, and animals. It provides educational resources, trainings, and awareness forums to assist our communities in creating a safer and healthier future. Its operations currently reach the Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, and Waldo counties (New Hope for Women, 2012).
The core belief of the organization is that power must not be used to demean people. Misusing power through violence and oppression would lead to various forms of bigotry such as racism, sexism, and classism. They believe that power must be channeled towards goodness in order to unite people instead of creating a divide. New Hope for Women commits to battling the misuse of power, violence, and oppression. With this, the organization upholds that a true just and peaceful society does the same (New Hope for Women, 2012).
The organization was incorporated in 1981. In the same year, it hired its first batch of employees and had received funding from the state. The number of employees grew in the next ten years. Although employees were designated into the director, bookkeeper, and coordinator posts, they took direct services as shared responsibilities. Three years later, New Hope for Women hired a women’s advocate (New Hope for Women, 2012).
In 1998, transitional housing was unveiled in the Knox and Waldo counties. Also, it had acquired an office space in Rockland while assisting the launch of a batterer intervention program. Other programs such as the community education and the school-based programs grew to reach three counties. The staffing in the Belfast and Damariscotta offices were permanently assigned. By the year 2000, more programs were added such as the Island Outreach and the Time for Change. Two years after, another transitional housing opened in Lincoln County (New Hope for Women, 2012).
Types of Small Groups
Small groups have various characteristics to identify them. Size, structure, identity, and interaction are considered. Based on these attributes, there are two common types of small groups, the task-oriented group and the relational-oriented group. The first type solves problems while the second type forms quality connections (Schmitz, 2012).
As for the New Hope for Women, it can be said that the two types apply to its circumstance. Within the organization, four small groups are involved. The first is the support group. The second is the educational school-based group. The third is the partner group, and the last is the clinical group. The leader is selected from the pool of individuals who had the most experience. Meetings are held once a week for eight weeks. In some instances, depending on the group, meetings are held once or twice a month. Support groups get together voluntarily while staff meetings are mandatory. On the other hand, work groups can either be formed on a voluntary or mandatory basis (Myers & Anderson, 2008; Brown, 2000).
Social Norms Related to the Group
In general, small groups exhibit interdependence and shared identity as a norm. Interdependence allow for having a common purpose and direction. Meanwhile, the shared identity sprung from the dynamics of a shared goal and previous achievements. It makes a group cohesive such that participants like to identify with the tasks and other members, establishing trust, positivity, productivity, and satisfaction (Schmitz, 2012).
The rules in the support group are based on supporting people with soft set rules and professional social norms. These fundamental rules are necessary for successful meetings. Depending on the group's goals and operations, rules vary from one group to another. However, the following values are mostly applicable to group meetings. The first is confidentiality. It requires members to build trust and agreement within the group. This is in order to bring about an atmosphere of openness to each other. Thus, the members are at ease in talking about sensitive issues. At the same time, the discussions must not be taken outside the group. It would be inappropriate and disrespectful and would lead to the values that must be instilled being ignored. New members must be regularly reminded of this rule in order to keep them from devaluing the rules (Schmitz, 2012; “Facilitating Support Groups.” n.d.).
The next rule is positive regard. It assumes that members are performing tasks in the best way they can. When it comes to giving opinions during discussions, participants must be reminded that every person has their own point of view. It would extremely vary as it is from one’s values and personal history. This, too, must be respected (Schmitz, 2012; “Facilitating Support Groups,” n.d.).
The last basic rule is good listening. There are times when members notice things from each other that could be done better, so they offer advice and suggestions. However, this may not be helpful. Instead, leaders or facilitators of the group must encourage them to listen first and interpret what they hear with a positive regard. Support groups are supposed to empower its members. Unfortunately, this is threatened despite efforts to provide sympathetic comments. It may also spiral down to members withdrawing from discussions. To foster openness, members must uphold good listening practices (Schmitz, 2012; “Facilitating Support Groups,” n.d.).
Advantages and Disadvantages of Working in Small Groups
Working and participating in small groups have its advantages and disadvantages. One of its many advantages is that each member helps one another in achieving a common goal. As a result, there is less work involved. Also, members learn and are able to cope with life problems and issues on their own. The disadvantages, on the other hand, show up when people don’t attend the group meetings. They miss the learning that they could have discussed and reflected on in order to be able to apply the positive changes in their lives. Moreover, when there are not enough people attending in a group, the group session would be cancelled. The implication of this is that the group fails in its goal of helping others. Most importantly, the welfare of people would not be taken care of as there would be fewer ideas to lift a burden of work.
Meetings in Small Groups
The duration of the meeting must be determined in advance. Also, facilitators must consider whether the meeting is open-ended or has an ending. Most importantly, members must be informed if these facilitators are committed in dropping by or attending every meeting.
Support groups meet in Wiscasset for 8 weeks through a face-to-face set-up. Meetings occur after work hours. Most of the time, people would attend during spring and fall. This is because summer is an active and busy, yet lively season. It is engaging and fun for everyone while winter is tough. Driving would be difficult in such weather conditions. People are cautious about going out. A work group in Augusta, Maine does face-to-face meetings with victims. The meetings take place in the Bath office for a duration of one hour.
In any case, the purpose of the group is to show the red flags to the victims and to help them become a survivor. The goals of an eight-week program are determined and measured through group evaluations with clients, through the feedback gathered from the participants, and through the development of a plan to help clients with their problems.
Sharing of Information between Members
Support group co-facilitators deliver messages and share information among clients through handouts. In the handouts, directions for the support activities are provided. The activities then use and encourage creativity through drawing and writing. These exercises help individuals in brainstorming, which in turn lead to the solution of their problems. Nonetheless, the process of decision-making towards solving problems can lack consensus due to the participants having their own personal solutions. Here, support groups have internal conflicts. They can also drift from the goal of the group. In this regard, support groups are conflicted in educating people about their cause
Handling Social Loafers
In groups, some members can be social loafers. Having social loafers, also known as “free riders,” in the group have the tendency of making group efforts decline instead of having the members being coactive on a similar task (Worchel, Rothgerber & Day, 2011). It’s a threat in a way that group activities become futile for these individuals. Unfortunately, the organization lacks initiatives for managing social loafers.
Decision-making and Problem Solving
Conflicts about how an educational program would go may arise in support groups. Thus, when it comes to decision-making and problem solving, group leaders and chairpersons help in coming up with project voting, brainstorming, and discussions for the group and the community.
Furthermore, clinical support is available. Psychologists may come in to talk to difficult-to- handle clients, especially the ones who have mental illnesses. They come up with ideas that best fit the client, making it an easier process for New Hope for Woman to understand and help them. Nonetheless, the organization’s management team still has the decision about the flow of discussions. The clinical support helps create plans to solve problems for the organization at the staff meeting.
Defining Conflict and Ways to Deal with Them
Facilitators are the ones who define conflicts among participants. Conflicts happen when participants talk over someone using non-supportive language. There are instances when some resolve problems by talking to others despite discussions having already concluded. This is because they were embarrassed to go into further discussions about their problems. Here, they may think about not attending the meetings again. When conflicts arise, the problems linger and when people don’t agree with the resolution of the group, the group has to discuss and vote for the means for solving the issue.
The leader of the project listens to everyone’s thoughts and shares relevant news about other organizations. All of the problems in work groups are discussed at the meeting for them to come up with solutions and advice to help individuals. Clinical advice through a psychologist is also given at the meeting. Additional advice is also given when needed. The New Hope for Women organization works with young adults, the elderly, and children. The organization has helped children in need in dealing with domestic violence through educational programs.
The organization New Hope for Women has helped victims cope with violence and abuse for the past three decades. Its success can be attributed to the formation of four small groups. Although there is the tendency of having social loafers, the individuals, especially the leaders and facilitators in the groups, work together to deliver its cause well.
Brown, J. G. (2000, October). OIG compliance program for individual and small group physician practices. Federal Register, 65(194): 59434-59445.
Facilitating support groups. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.proyectovision.net/map/book/export/html/42.html
Myers, S. A., & Anderson, C. M. (2008). Components of small group communication. The Fundamentals of Small Group Communication. SAGE Publication. Retrieved from http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/18524_Chapter1.pdf
New Hope for Women. (2012). About new hope for women. Retrieved from http://www.newhopeforwomen.org/about-new-hope
Schmitz, A. (2012). Small group communication. A Primer on Communication Studies. Retrieved from http://2012books.lardbucket.org/books/a-primer-on-communication- studies/s13-small-group-communication.html
Worchel, S., Rothgerber, H., & Day, E. A. (2011). Social loafing and group development: When “I” comes last. The University of Iowa. Retrieved from http://www.uiowa.edu/~grpproc/crisp/crisp17_5.pdf