Category Archives: Awareness On


A diagnosis of breast cancer brings fear, confusion and worry to both the patient and their families. Each year thousands of women (and men, too) hear the dreaded words, “Sorry, you have breast cancer.” At that moment they often feel scared and alone. Thankfully, there is hope, comfort and understanding available in a support group for breast cancer patients.

These groups are available statewide and offer understanding and support in a wide variety of groups. Some groups are available specifically for the younger women, while others may be open to women whose cancer has metasticized. Regardless of the focus, all of these groups are available to help women and  their families hope and support in a time of need.



How to Publicize Your Support Group

Finding members for your new group is crucial to getting your group off the ground. But getting the word out about your group is also a continuous activity. When spreading the word about your group, keep in mind how and where potential members might go and what type of publicity might work best. Here are some suggestions that might help increase the knowledge about your group.

  • Contact Helplines – Make sure that every local community helpline or hotline knows about your group. These helplines receive calls from people in need and the helplines appreciates having resources such as yours to refer to.
  • Hang Up Flyers – Design an eye-catching flyer that describes the purpose of your group, when and where it meets, and who to contact for more information. Hang the flyers up wherever potential members may see them (laundromats, supermarket, etc.) When you design the flyer, include “grab tabs” (which are the pieces of dangling tabs on the bottom of the flyer with contact information for your group). Also, take away one or two of the tabs before you hang up the flyer so that people will get the idea that they are not alone!
  • Design a Brochure – In the brochure, include your mission statement, the purpose of your group, who the group is for, and contact information. Distribute these brochures to doctor offices, hospitals, libraries health fairs, or anywhere where potential members may go. Brochures are convenient because they fit nicely into slots at doctor offices and other places, Brochures also have the room where you can fully describe your group. It may help if you design the brochure so that they back of the brochure lists symptoms or coping skills related to your group’s issue. These can generate interest from persons looking at the brochure. Although there are companies that can design and print brochures for you, they can easily be created on any word processing program on a computer.
  • Contact Professionals – Contact key professionals that work with potential group members. Send them a brochure, and try to obtain a face-to-face meeting. Also, consider having them as a guest speaker at your group sot that they will become familiar with your group.
  • Develop a Newsletter – Newsletter can be done monthly, quarterly, or yearly and they help sustain interest in your group. It is a great way to let people know what your group has done, and is planning to do in the future. The newsletter can be emailed or mailed to current and former members, local professionals, local social services, and others places that would be interested in your group.
  • Speakers Bureau – Develop a speakers’ bureau and give talks about the availability and benefits of your group to local organizations (Kiwanis, Rotary Club, Visiting Nurses, medical personnel, etc.) Having a group member share their story about how much the group has helped them is one of the most powerful marketing tool available.
  •  Internet – There are many places online where you can publicize your group including:
    • Local Event Calendars – Do a search on your town and County to find various town and government websites (including local libraries) that include local events and calendars that allow interested persons to post information about their events.
    • Newspapers – You can post information about your group on newspaper calendars (e.g., or )
    • Message Boards/Forums – Look for any message boards or forums dealing with your group’s issue and post information about your group.
    • Website: Since so many potential members might search the internet for your type of group, consider getting a website for your group. You can get a free website from many places such as or (but remember, if you get a freebie, you will have to put up with some ads—otherwise you can opt to pay a small fee to have a website that is ad-less.
  • Church Bulletins – Have each member of your group ask their house of worship if they can put a small blurb in their bulletin.
  • Newspapers – Although not as easy as in the past, there are still several ways in which you can use your local paper to publicize your group. (Note: it is much easier to get into the free, town newspapers.) Also, the more “news worthy” your article is, the greater chance that you can get published.
    • Event Calendar – Many newspapers will print information about support groups or other community events once per week. Contact your local paper to see which day they publish and how best to send them the information on your group.
    • Human Interest Story – Many papers will write an article of interest to its readership. If the reason that you are starting your group is touching, or if your existing group has been especially inspirational or helpful, contact your local paper to see if it is newsworthy.
    • Letter to the Editor – If your group deals with something that is very newsworthy (e.g. you have a group for those who lost a loved one to an overdose and your newspaper has published an article on how heroin overdoses are on the increase) you can submit letters to your paper. Most letters can be submitted by email.
    • Press Release – If your group has an upcoming event, or has had a newsworthy incident, you can try to submit a press release to your local paper. Contact the newspaper or go online, to find out in what format they would like the press release to be submitte
  • Business Cards – Get business cards for your group. Include just the name of the group, your mission statement, perhaps the county in which you meet, and contact information. There are some companies, such as Vistaprint, that can provide business cards very inexpensively. These can be distributed many places.
  • Radio – There are several ways in which you can use local radio stations. Please note: these are only for your local college or other small, local radio station.
    • PSA (Public Service Announcement) – Write a 10-second PSA for your local station. Radio stations must devote a certain amount of air time free-of-charge to non-profit organizations. Although this is competitive, contact them to see if you can submit a PSA for consideration.
    • Interviews – Many small, local radio stations have programs in which they interview local community people. Most of these are pre-taped so you don’t have to worry about being live on the radio! Contact your local radio stations to see if they have such a program where they could interview several of your group members.
  • Cable Television – Like radio, there are several ways in which your group can utilize your local cable television channels.
    • Bulletin Board – Ask your local cable station how to submit an announcement about your group to be run on the public community bulletin board.
    • Talk Television – Some local cable stations have speakers from local groups participate in talk shows. Write to your local station telling them which topic you would like to discuss on air.
  • Word of Mouth – This is actually the most effective form of publicity—current members telling others how wonderful the group has been! (So, as a facilitator, make sure that the group is as good as it could be!)
  • Health Fairs / Town Fairs – Get a display table at any local health or town fair. Distribute any flyers, brochures or other print material that you have on your group. Create eye-catching signs to put up on your table to attract people to your table.
  • Network with Other Groups – Find out about the existence of local similar or complimentary groups to yours and let them know about your group in case they have anyone who may be interested. Example: if you are starting a group for loss of a child, see if there are any general bereavement groups in your area.
  • Get in Other Newsletters or Publications – Get in touch with other agencies that potential members may contact to see if you can get a small blurb included about your group published in their newsletter or other publication.







As you probably know, the NJ Self-Help Group Clearinghouse helps people free of charge to start new groups. Below is a list of topics for which we are helping others to start groups around. If you would like to help any of these groups to start (it’s always easier with more than one person!), call Barbara White at 1800-367-6274 or send an email to:

  • Caregivers of Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease (Cape May County)
  • Childless Women (Monmouth County)
  • Emotional Freedom (Ocean County)
  • Emotions Anonymous (Morris County)
  • Faith-based Families of Persons with Mental Illness (Union County)
  • Parents of Children with ADHD (Middlesex County)
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (Monmouth)
  • Shoplifters (Essex County)
  • Single Moms (Atlantic County)