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, Beth Pellettieri and Lexi Walters Wright

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 2016 progress: Authorship of a Bereavement Support Group Curriculum, Securing of a physical space for all support groups. 

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

November 2016 progress: we have created stipends for support group facilitators and hired three 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’ programing.

November 2016 Progress: Held a very successful Valley Gives 2016, have submitted three grants for 2016-17, looking towards Giving Tuesday 2016 and Valley Gives 2017 campaigns . 

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 2016 progress: Facebook posting has been consistent, blog posts have been consistent, events have increased at new site with opportunities for one-to-one meetings for families and open house events. 

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

November 2016 progress: Have added Spanish language to website and created Spanish brochures. Have created a Spanish Facebook page and added links to the website. We have a committee who is working on extending our companion resources for Spanish speaking families and we are training a co-companion who is a bereaved parent who can serve as a translator and community contact in Holyoke. 

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

November 2016 progress: Have updated website language and now offer every-other-month TFMR support groups. 

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

November 2016 Progress: Have worked to create a new miscarriage handout and are currently widely distributing these resources to try to improve the early loss referrals. Are now reworking all of our handout literature to ensure that families will be referred to us and community  members will know about 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 2016 Progress: Attended Partners in Perinatal Health Conference, attended PLIDA Conference, active in New England Loss Facebook group. Planning retreat for Fall 2017 for both local and traveling participants.