Empty Arms Bereavement Support approved its first strategic plan in October of 2015. The goal of the strategic plan was to create a concrete plan for the growth and development of Empty Arms over the next three years. 

In the spring of 2015, we conducted a survey of all of our members to try to assess what we were doing well, and what we needed to direct our focus to. We were so grateful that so many people participated, and below we're excited to share with you the results of what we learned. The plan itself is written in regular text, and you'll periodically see updates and progress following those plan goals in italics. We continue to welcome your feedback, your involvement and your ideas!

The Strategic Plan was created by the Strategic Planning Committee of the Board of Directors starting in Spring 2015. It included a survey to community members, in-depth interviews with a community member and staff, and two follow-up meetings of the Strategic Planning Committee. This strategic plan was approved by the Board of Directors on October 20, 2015.

The Strategic Plan is comprised of three sections: Building Internal CapabilitiesExpanding Our Reach Locally, and Expanding Our Reach Nationally. Within these three sections, the Committee has outlined key goals and strategies for improving the sustainability and strength of Empty Arms Bereavement Support internally, and increasing outreach, leverage and networking opportunities within the perinatal loss community and throughout the Pioneer Valley.

2015 Strategic Planning Committee: Carol McMurrich, Jean Monska (board treasurer), Beth Pellettieri (past board president and past Development Director for Empty Arms) and Lexi Walters Wright (past board secretary and group facilitator) 

Building Internal Capabilities

Empty Arms Bereavement Support has built an incredible legacy of facilitated support groups and one-to-one counseling. These programs were created slowly, filling a critical need in the community to better support families in their most painful moments.

In the next three years, the Board of Directors and staff will prioritize building and strengthening these programs to be more sustainable. This includes increasing funding for our programs, pursuing opportunities for replication, and exploring potential office space. In supporting our existing work, Empty Arms will also strengthen the internal workings of the organization by sharing information on budgets, website metrics and improving support to the staff through increased communication, training, and by building a new cadre of facilitators.

GOAL #1: Create sustainable support groups.

November 2017 progress:  Authorship of a Bereavement Support Group Curriculum, Securing of a physical space for all support groups is being edited and projected publication early 2018

GOAL #2: Increase support and invest in our staff,  internal operations, and the infrastructure of Empty Arms.

November 2017 progress: we have created stipends for support group facilitators and hired four new facilitators. 

GOAL #3: Building our fundraising efforts around individual giving, fundraising events, and foundation grants to fully support and build the scope of Empty Arms’ programming.

November 2017 Progress: Our giving campaigns- both Valley Gives and Giving Tuesday- continue to be extremely successful. We have also been successful in securing grants from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, the Howard E. Stark Foundation, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, as well as small grants from Baystate Health and Cooley Dickinson Hospital. 

Expanding our Local Role

Empty Arms Bereavement Support is well-known within the Pioneer Valley as being a thoughtful, respectful, and compassionate place for support and care during a family’s most difficult time. As we build our capabilities, it is critical that we continue to build that reputation, and ensure that families are able to find our resources for support. In the next three years, the Board of Directors and staff will focus on new opportunities to reach families in crisis, and to more effectively outreach to those in our network.

GOAL #1: Strengthen our current EABS community through improved outreach, increased participation and new roles for community members

November 2017 progress: Facebook posting has been consistent, blog posts have been consistent, events have continued to increase at new site with opportunities for one-to-one meetings for families and more social events. 

GOAL #2: Improve access and outreach to families we are currently not serving.

November 2017 progress: Have successfully created the structure for a program involving peer companions that will do community outreach and follow up to Spanish Speaking families. We have hired 3 new bilingual companions who have been trained in the Empty Arms method of offering support, and within that committee of new companions have determined that the most potential lies with offering one-to-one support in the  Latinx community as opposed to support groups. We are currently working to restructure the way these services are offered on our website. Program will be constantly re-evaluated. 

GOAL #3: Ensure that families who have terminated for medical reasons know we support them.

November 2017 progress: Have updated website language and have offered every-other-month TFMR support groups for 18 months now, with great success. 

GOAL #4: Outreach to medical providers about Empty Arms Bereavement to ensure improved support and referrals for patients.

November 2017 Progress: Have worked to create a new miscarriage booklet and are aggressively seeking meetings with provider offices to discuss distribution of our resources to try to improve the early loss referrals. We feel confident that most if not all later losses are being referred to us. 

Expanding Our National Role

The social trends and status quo around loss are slowly changing. More than ever, we see families being open and sharing the news of their miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant loss, not only to family, but also to their broader networks. As we are a current leader in the field, this provides a unique moment for Empty Arms Bereavement Support to grow as an important resource and model of care in the perinatal loss community.  In the next three years, the organization will continue to leverage and expand our connections regionally and locally to grow our partners, and become a stronger voice and advocate for those we serve.

GOAL #1: Expand our national and regional presence with other organizations and agencies through resource and information sharing, referrals, and to assert our own expertise.  

November 2017 Progress: Have attended seven Partners in Perinatal Health Conferences, attended two PLIDA Conferences, active in New England Loss Facebook group. Planning retreat for January 2018 for both local and traveling participants.