Our group is one of the oldest mood disorder support groups in New Jersey.
In 1987, Irene O’Neil was looking for a support group to help her deal with her bipolar disorder. There were none in this area at the time. So Irene, with help of the New Jersey Self-Help Group Clearinghouse, started our self-help support group. Years later, we voted to name ourselves “New Beginnings”.
Initially, the group met monthly in Blackwood, Irene’s home town. When the group decided to meet more frequently, we relocated to the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Magnolia, New Jersey, that same year. The relocation offered us the opportunity to meet weekly. As years went by, we added a group for supportive family and friends, and then groups for men, women, and young adults.
For seven years, we were a chapter of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), starting in 2005. But in 2011, we decided we had grown enough to stand on our own, and are not affiliated with any organization at this time. However, we keep in touch with our state’s chapter of the DBSA, DBSA New Jersey.
We lost Irene to cancer in 1991, but we owe a great deal to her. The group has run continuously since she founded it in 1987.
After Irene, Gary was the senior member and our group leader for 15 years. He worked hard to keep everything running smoothly, enhance the group, and help others whenever possible. He was a good friend and his leadership and dedication were well known. Gary passed away in January 2007 to heart failure.
Doug was the natural choice to be the next leader, and guided the group to new heights. Doug retired from being group leader in September of 2014, and handed off his responsibilities to Dave. Doug remained a facilitator and was active in group until he passed away in January 2018. Doug cared about everyone and was a great friend and mentor. We are fortunate to have benefitted from his wisdom, experience, and humor.
New Beginnings continues to honor the legacy of our founders and leaders. Thanks to them, and to everyone else who has attended meetings and cared about one another, group is thriving. We will always strive to fulfill our mission and support our peers with mood disorders.