Social Group a Good Neighbor to those Suddenly Alone
By Amy Morgan
Taking care of widows is a core command for a good neighbor. We don’t have to think very hard to remember the feeling of isolation as we remained home during the pandemic. Imagine if that situation was not yours just for a season but suddenly became a daily reality due to the death of a spouse or a divorce.
Isolation is felt even more keenly by those who live alone. To combat loneliness, several mature single adults formed a group to be that good neighbor to those in midlife who found themselves suddenly single. They formed the Single Professionals Network (SPN) 34 years ago as a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of its members through fun social events.
The group meets primarily for weekly happy hours at local restaurants but also plans day trips to nearby attractions, according to Activities Director Dolly Isakson. Two of the founding members, Sandra Chandler and Barbara Knorr, still remain on the active roll.
While its main purpose is to provide a safe opportunity to meet with other likeminded individuals to form friendships, SPN offers support for those who find themselves single due to death or divorce. Dolly recounts the story of a new member, Judy, who came to the group shortly after the death of her husband. A few weeks later Judy confessed she initially thought SPN was a grief group.
“Instead, she found this group of alive people who are having the time of their lives,” Dolly said, adding the woman remarked, “It’s been my salvation!”
Dolly could relate. She found SPN in 2009 shortly after the death of her husband. “SPN provides a real service to the community,” she said. “It is so easy when you lose a spouse to sit home and not get out of your recliner. Your married friends have their own agenda, and you need to find an outlet.”
It takes courage to step out alone after a lifetime of being part of a couple. Dolly and Jo Anne Hale, a neighbor who coincidentally lost her husband just one day after Dolly, attended their first SPN meeting together and became fast friends.
“Many of us find ourselves alone after many years of marriage and raising children. This can happen suddenly and be very overwhelming. I quickly realized that I was responsible for my happiness and wellbeing. We walked into a SPN birthday party not knowing a soul, not really even knowing what SPN was. Immediately, we were welcomed and introduced to others. This was at least twelve years ago!” Joanne said. “SPN provides a family of friends, a place where you can walk in alone and feel right at home.”
Dolly testifies to the importance of staying socially connected and gives an example of Bob, an active, vibrant 96-year-old WWII veteran who still shoots a high 70s in his three-times weekly golf games, “all because of his social life.”
‘As you get older, the most important factor of your wellbeing is your social life,” she said. “You’ll be happier, healthier, and live longer.” Fortunately for Stone Oak’s mature singles, Single Professionals Network provides just that outlet. Reach Dolly at SPN-SA.org to find out about the next event.