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New women’s support group forms in Hollywood

HOLLYWOOD — Family Services in Hollywood started a women’s group in July to encourage women to support one another, learn that their issues are universal and understand that others struggle, too.

The group meets for lunch and conversation Thursdays from noon to 1 p.m. Led by Family Services employees Mary Olitzky and Billie Tiger, a Tribal member, group discussions offer a broad focus and encourage meaningful dialogues.

Using the book “Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul,” the women read a passage aloud each week and then discuss it. Themes focus on positive, self-affirming issues like motherhood, self-esteem and overcoming obstacles. The format encourages conversation regardless of age or challenges.

“It opens up a bouncing off of each other,” said Tiger, a sober house assistant. “I express my personal issues, so they see it’s OK to talk. Culturally, it’s hard for Seminole women to speak. You see a little bit of hope when they start talking.”

The setting isn’t always easy for participants to embrace, but with time Olitzky and Tiger hope it will become more comfortable.

“When they are in the group and open up, they really enjoy it and connect with each other in ways they haven’t in the past,” Olitzky said. “We want them to become friends outside of the group, so they can be a support network when they need one.”

Olitzky and Tiger try not to have any expectations for the group – they know people will only share so much.

“They don’t know each other’s deep passion, shame, embarrassment and low self-esteem,” Olitzky said.

“We’d like to see them gain and grow from this experience,” Tiger added. “That comes from my heart because I know what helped me learn and grow. It can be a positive thing for them.”

Olitzky emphasized that the group is for general support only; it isn’t therapy.

“We want them to come out with life lessons, new friendships and a support network,” Olitzky said. “And that they take away something for themselves each week, even if it’s as simple as they sat in the group, heard people share and realize they aren’t alone.”

 

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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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