Rachel Foster was an active member of DiabetesSisters of the Denver Metro area from its inception in late 2014, but after a few years began making plans to move to Saint Paul, MN. Denver PODS Leaders Erika Armani and Theresa Hastings encouraged her to think strongly about starting a PODS Meetup in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/Saint Paul). Rachel moved to Saint Paul in July 2017, and considered starting a brand new PODS Meetup.
From her previous days of diabetes blogging and advocacy Rachel knew a few women with diabetes in the Twin Cities who might be interested in a new peer support group, so she knew she wouldn't completely start from scratch. Beginning in January 2018, she completed a DiabetesSisters application, interview, orientation, and other requirements to become a PODS Leader; started building an email list; and planned the first meeting for March. Since then, the Meetup has had a steady 3-5 attendees each month, with a couple of larger meetings.
Twin Cities PODS members like being able to connect with others like themselves about diabetes on a regular basis, and to learn about new and different treatment methods and technology. In this first year the group has discussed choosing health care plans, emotional wellness and stress, and healthy eating. They enjoyed a diabetes trivia game at their latest meetup, with everyone trying some challenging questions and learning something new! The group is also starting to discover what they have in common in addition to diabetes, as well. Rachel hopes that PODS members will get together for other diabetes events in 2019, or participate in an athletic event together, diabetes-related or not.
As someone in her early forties who recently relocated 1000 miles away, leading a PODS Meetup has offered Rachel an opportunity to socialize and get to know the local geography. “I changed industries for my day job when I moved, and felt a little timid about my abilities for the first year. Organizing and moderating PODS Meetups has renewed my confidence in myself and my abilities again.”
Rachel previously blogged about life with diabetes (2005 – 2013), and has participated in sponsored advocacy events in the online community. She sees that in-person peer support is just as important as online, and seeing women’s reactions as they have "aha" moments about life with diabetes is incredible. “I’m glad to be able to make connections between women who live with diabetes, and I get just as much out of doing it as they get out of it.”
Since 2010 the Part Of DiabetesSisters (PODS) Meetup program has offered monthly support to women living with any type of diabetes or prediabetes, and provided a nonjudgmental place to discuss the successes and challenges of living with diabetes. Led by women lwho live with diabetes, the groups offer true peer support focused on women and diabetes. The PODS Meetup Program reaches more than 1,300 women annually, in person (in 22 states) and online (members meet via computer cameras from the comfort of their own home). Women age 18 and up, living with any type of diabetes or prediabetes, are invited to attend PODS Meetups. If you would like more information on local PODS Meetups near you, or starting a group in your community, please complete the PODS Meetup inquiry form – we look forward to hearing from you!