NOTE: this article was written during the pandemic’s heightened restrictions but the group NOW meets in-person.
The virtual/on-line monthly meetings of 70/Four70 MS Men’s Self-help Group have been discontinued but we’re not disbanding. Our objective and function are slightly different than most self-help/support groups.
The 70/Four70 MS Men’s Self-help Group was specifically created to:
- provide a physical and accessible meeting place for adult males with MS to relax and talk
- not be a “pity party!”
- encourage men with MS to get out of the house* to interact/socialize with other men with MS.
- It’s a relief to not have to explain our MS to someone who won’t/doesn’t/can’t understand
- and it is a healthy “escape” for men with MS to socialize in-person with other men with MS.
- It gives these men an opportunity to give themselves and their caregivers/family a welcomed break; albeit briefly.
*We absolutely understand MS can severely restrict physical capabilities/mobility and can make it extremely difficult and even perilous to attempt to attend our meetings in person. We do not purport to be “all things to all people” and have chosen to focus on the social support and health benefit of physically gathering together. The pandemic put a halt to that focus.
The group is simply a way for men with MS to just be themselves without pity or criticism while maintaining confidentiality. We provide a safe, off-the-record, confidential forum to good naturedly joke, poke fun, talk about sports, current/past careers, or discuss a myriad of more serious but non-political topics and sometimes even multiple sclerosis! Our meetings are a time to relax and, when appropriate, put MS on the back burner as much as possible. We care about each other’s struggles but not to the point of feeling sorry for ourselves. Often, the nonverbal communication is most important. Men understand all this, so it’s unnecessary to further elaborate!
Unlike traditional support groups, 70/Four70 was also created to specifically exclude speakers and marketing promotions. There are other resources for this. The need we intend to fill is more difficult to find. Although it is not an absolute, we rarely have formal presentations. Intentionally.
As a result of the pandemic and the resulting restrictions on in-person meetings, we tried moving our format to on-line/virtual meetings. We utilized Go-to-Meeting, then Zoom. However over time, it became apparent the virtual meeting format was not that helpful and certainly not fulfilling the Group’s primary purpose. So, we have chosen to put 70/Four70 in a “holding pattern” until we are again allowed to meet in person.
We greatly appreciate Jeff Deutsch for graciously stepping up to host several of our original on-line meetings. Later, in an attempt to keep things going, Tom Holtackers kindly took over as our on-line facilitator. Although we hoped the on-line format would continue to serve the men of our group, over time member interest waned. Several men indicated they are no longer participating on-line because it diminished the value of relationships. In-person meetings fostered friendship and sense of “belonging” but it is not the same for them on-line. This is true for me as well.
70/Four70 continues to exist but we ceased virtual/on-line meetings. We intend this to be a temporary but forced freeze of our formal in-person meetings. The ban on in-person gatherings will end and we intend to again hold in-person meetings when that happens!
We continue to keep you informed of NMSS issues via email and let you know when we are allowed to meet in-person, again. You can always reach George and me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org Looking forward to seeing you,