Happy New Year to one and all. I hope that 1998 will be good to your chapter and to your chapter members. I know you all have been working very hard for the UOA, but a concern has surfaced and I did not want it to wait any longer before bringing it to your attention.
It has been brought to my attention, once again, that there are ostomates who are not receiving the assistance they need--even when they ask for it. UOA has become a very diverse organization--made up of many different groups. At one time all members had the traditional ostomies and it was easy. Now, there are those with the continent and pull-through procedures, gay and lesbian members, and the parents with children who have had the various ostomy surgeries. Our members also come from all walks of life--all ages, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and income groups. We need to give them all the support we can. This is a little harder to do, but it can be done.
Our mission statement states "UOA is a volunteer-based health organization dedicated to assisting people who have had or will have intestinal or urinary diversions"--no matter what. Now that we are so diverse it is not only the traditional ostomate who needs our assistance, but all others as well.
I ask that all UOA chapters remember this when someone comes to a chapter meeting, writes or calls for assistance. DO NOT turn them away or cut off their inquiry--offer help. If your chapter does not have the services for some of our "special interest" groups, refer the person to the national office. The office has various databases for making referrals--be it Parents of Ostomate Children (POC), Continent Procedures (CP), or the Gay and Lesbian Ostomates (GLO). ALL of us needed help at one time or another, and members of these groups are no different, except that they have some different needs.
If you need ideas or assistance on how to start a specialty group within your chapter, call your Chapter Coordinator or your Service Director--they will be glad to assist you. You can also call any of the UOA officers. This could also assist you in increasing your chapter membership; let's not turn anyone away who asks for our asistance. Be there for them as someone was for you.