White Salmon Women Build Strength, Friendships

February 03, 2019 | Church | Karen Fisher

Organizing a health-education outreach program takes weeks of planning, publicity and recruiting of volunteers. The event may be well-attended, but too soon it is over and those new friends are gone. What if we could keep them coming back?

In March 2012, Irene Hill, of the White Salmon (Wash.) Church, attended a one-day, leader-training course for the Strong Women program offered by the OSU County Extension agent. It is a weight-lifting program originally designed by Miriam Nelson of Tufts University for middle-aged and older women to increase bone density, strengthen muscles, improve balance, ease arthritis and reduce weight. Strong Women is a grassroots movement sponsored by nonprofit community organizations like senior centers, granges … and at least one Seventh-day Adventist church.

Posters and a newspaper announcement brought 30 women to the church fellowship hall for the first three-month, twice-a-week workout. Each session began with a five-minute devotional or health nugget. Unlike most church health programs that educate then end, Strong Women continued year after year, closing only on holidays and during the summer. Bodies strengthened, positive lifestyle changes occurred, and hearts were bonded. When the church offered other programs, some of the women attended. They felt at home with members they already knew through the Strong Women program.

If your church has a fellowship hall where a few weights can be stored and a circle of chairs can be set up, and if you have one or two people willing to train as leaders, you too could begin an ongoing strength-training and friendship-building outreach.

For more information about the Strong Women program or leadership, email Irene Hill.