DBSA Board Chair, Cheryl Magrini, Shares Her Admiration and Issues a Challenge to All Chapter Leaders
I bring you greetings on behalf of your Board of Directors, made up of seventeen dedicated persons from across the United States. I was elected to the Board in 2012 and started my two-year term as chair January 1, 2014. I will confess, I was not quite sure what I was getting into! The Board consists of peers, family members of a person living with a mood disorder, those with business, corporate and managed care experience, a C.P.A., an attorney, clinicians, a certified yoga instructor, two certified Reiki masters, an author, myself as a minister, and more. Each person has in some way, had their life touched by a person living with a mood disorder. The national Bylaws state that 51% of the Board must disclose as living with a mood disorder and at present we are at 52%.
While the Board is charged with carrying out the governing duties of DBSA, at the forefront of the decisions made, are peers, their family members and friends, and the communities in which we live. At every meeting, we begin by sharing the writing of a peer whose life has been impacted in some way by being part of DBSA. Their stories shared are honest and inspiring as journeys of not only struggles, but of triumphs are told. In the support groups that I facilitate, I have a plaque on the table that reads, “Your Story Matters.” Your story does indeed matter.
I know firsthand how DBSA changes a person’s life. Taking the peer specialist training in 2011 transformed my work as a minister and I was so moved to hear the story of my peers in the training. My family founded the DBSA Chicago Loop Chapter also in 2011, located in the heart of Chicago. I started by no one showing up, then two, then needing a larger room in five months, and now we fill two rooms every week at both the Tuesday family/friends group, and the Thursday for those with a mood disorder. Always, always, a person says that they now know they are not alone, that the group is their family, that someone cannot make it through another day or week. We cry and we laugh. When I lost my vibrant twenty-three year old son to bipolar disorder in 2011, the DBSA family of the national staff were a rock for me in my healing journey. His memorial fund was donated to DBSA. However and wherever I can, I share his story. I hope that in I can then in turn be a source of strength for someone else.
I close with this challenge. Ask ten people whom you do not know, what inspires them and then share your own inspiration. Just this morning I met Dr. Don Breen from Phillipsburg, NJ, who is beginning a new support group in November at St. Luke’s Warren Hospital. I met Daisy Jabas, soon to be acting state director in TN, where her goal is to have a chapter in each of the state’s ninety-five counties. I am inspired by Don and Daisy.
As I say to close my support group meetings, “You are amazing, courageous, beautiful people in mind, body and spirit.”