Over 6 million women in the U.S. today struggle with fertility challenges. Yet, despite this vast number, so many suffer alone. Katie O’Connor knows firsthand what they’re going through, and she is working hard to end the isolation.

O’Connor founded Shine: A Light on Fertility, a national nonprofit organization whose mission is “to create a community, empower through knowledge, and be the voice for those affected by fertility challenges.” It began with her wish to give others, “what I would have wanted when I was going through it,” she says.

O’Connor with her daughter and her husband, Bill

Shine offers both in-person monthly discussion groups and online open forums to provide places for women to find both the support and knowledge they need. Gabrielle, a previous Shine member who recently became a mom recalls, “When I went to Shine, it was the first time I could talk openly with women who were going through the same thing as me. In our monthly meetings, I cherished the freedom to express myself, to learn from others, to ask questions, and to laugh at some of the absurdities that come with getting assistance for fertility challenges.”

Discussion groups, as well as events featuring guest speakers in fertility-related fields, are currently held in Chicago. But meeting locations in Evanston, Northbrook and Naperville will also be offered in the near future. And, O’Connor and Shine’s Board of Directors will soon be launching two new programs: a Fertility Friends Mentoring Program and an Advocacy Initiative.

The Fertility Friends Mentoring Program will provide a more personal support system. Shine will help to connect women just beginning their journey with experienced members.

The Advocacy Initiative seeks to bring greater fertility awareness and education. Future plans include the widespread distribution of informative brochures, “Lunch and Learn” sessions at corporations and colleges/universities, and women’s fairs centered on fertility health. To help fund these projects, arrangements for a fall fundraising gala are underway.

Upcoming Event: In honor of April’s National Infertility Awareness Week, Shine will feature a Panel Discussion.

What: Shine Panel Discussion – Women Who Have Overcome Fertility Challenges (a panel of women with diverse experiences share advice, success stories and more)

When: Tuesday, April 14, 7:15 – 8:45 p.m.

Where: The Dailey Method – Bucktown, 1714 N. Damen Ave., 2nd floor, Chicago

How: To register, email [email protected]

If you are interested in becoming a member or learning more about Shine, click here.

All photos were provided by Katie O’Connor.

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