Ponder the location where you will meet with your group. One of the first ideas people will present to me is to meet at a coffee shop. While this is a great place to socialize, it is public. It does not afford the privacy to share feelings and emotions.
Most public libraries have meeting rooms and may be a good alternative to meet. Consider limitations however, such as in scheduling and displaying notes or charts on walls. Some libraries require groups to be a non-profit organization, and others do not. Just check with your local library to find their requirements.
I suggest you use your home only if you know the people who will be there and you feel comfortable with them being in your house. With the start of the Motherless Daughters Ministry, we all knew each other. We were friends and we began in my home.
We purposely brainstormed what we wanted in a location before moving to a neutral location. There are some very obvious necessities but I will still mention them here.
- Heat and air conditioning—I know that sounds strange to say this in 2019 but let me tell you there are many locations that are missing one or the other. I can remember in the early days of the ministry, meeting in a location where I had to forewarn people to wear their coats and gloves. It was an old building and the heat would not keep up on cold winter days. We didn’t know that when we began, but we soon decided this is a priority in picking a location. Just know that some places will welcome you with open arms, but you may need your coat. So, check this out very carefully.
- Restrooms—seems like another no-brainer for this century, but I was surprised at the lack of facilities in some locations. Say thanks but no thanks.
- A private room—This is the number one priority after creature comforts. As you begin your group, you need a space where everyone can talk without someone walking through your space. One of our early meeting rooms had a large window in the door. One of us felt uncomfortable when people she knew would pass by and recognize her.
- Safety—In today’s terrorist-crazed environment, safety is a critical issue. We learned through ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) https://www.alicetraining.com/ training that we should always have an exit strategy. Sad that we have to think of this but it is true.
- Neighborhood—Choose a neighborhood where people feel comfortable coming and going.
- Parking—Does your location offer free parking? Is parking close to the door so when people leave they feel safe walking to their vehicle? Will you be leaving after most people have already left the area?
- Wall Space to hang charts—Look at the available wall space. Are there any restrictions required by the location? We usually use either self-stick flip chart paper or use non-stick paper and blue painters’ tape. Use only markers like Mr. Sketch which do not bleed through your chart. Do a trial first to make sure. If they bleed through one sheet of paper, hang two sheets to protect the walls.
We ended up choosing a church location to meet our requirements. Most churches will welcome you to use their facility and may afford you the luxury of meeting your criteria.
Where will you choose to meet?