In 2012, a few years after Sondra Bennett started her journey with type 1 diabetes at age 50, she met another woman with diabetes who started and led a PODS Meetup in Richmond, VA. Sondra attended several Meetups in Richmond and then started one closer to her in Yorktown. After leading the Yorktown PODS for a few more years, Sondra moved the Meetup closer to her home in Williamsburg. The Williamsburg PODS has been active since April 2015.
In September 2017, Tricia Wingard attended her first meeting in Williamsburg. Tricia had always shied away from diabetes support groups, but a friend with diabetes (Sarah MacLeod, Boston/South Shore PODS Leader) recommended that Tricia try DiabetesSisters. Sarah assured Tricia that she would love it. After attending a few meetings, Tricia knew she wanted to support Sondra with the PODS Meetups, and offered to help with leading meetings.
A group of about 4-6 women usually attend the Williamsburg Meetups, often meeting at the clubhouse in Sondra’s neighborhood. The PODS discussions cover themes such as: ways to improve emotional wellness, self-care, depression and diabetes, financial challenges and diabetes management, reducing stress, staying active, healthy eating, and other strategies for managing blood sugar levels. PODS members enjoy connecting with one another and being able to freely share struggles with others who can easily relate.
In addition, Sondra and Tricia have been trying new ways to mix things up for the group – going out to dinner together or taking walks and talking about life and diabetes. They’re also planning to bring a yoga teacher to a future PODS Meetup to lead a session, and taking the group to a stand-up paddleboard class that Tricia teaches.
Tricia says, “Personally I love to be active while we connect and talk, so I hope to bring more of that to the group. I also love connecting with women who share the same daily struggles as I do, living with diabetes. Diabetes can be an all-consuming disease at times, and it truly pervades every aspect of your life. It never really goes away or is pushed back. I like that I can share my story, and others are so willing to share their story with me. It honestly makes me realize that I am not alone.”
Sondra appreciates the compassion, support, and the educational piece that she received after receiving a type 1 diabetes diagnosis as an adult, and that she continues to receive, from DiabetesSisters. She says, “I want to give back what was so freely given to me, and continue to help others – which also helps me. I’m so grateful for DiabetesSisters, for the chance to lead with Tricia, and for the support from everyone.”
Since 2010 the Part Of DiabetesSisters (PODS) Meetup program has offered monthly support to women living with any type of diabetes or prediabetes, providing a safe and nonjudgmental place to discuss the successes and challenges of living with diabetes. Led by women living 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!