THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
10th April, 2008 0
Saginaw's Nancy French says she'll show up 20 minutes early for the meeting of her Christian singles group, but it turns out she's 5 minutes late.
This is because she has rushed to compile a neat three-page newsletter that lists no less than 20 suggested activities for the coming month.
"I didn't even have a chance to staple these, so I'll need some help," she breathlessly tells an assembled group of about two dozen singles at the Camelot Place Apartments Community Building, on North Center near West Michigan.
Church services, concerts, movies, parades, pancake breakfasts are all on the agenda for the aptly and cleverly named Single Purpose, a group that meets at 7 p.m. each Monday.
"People don't want to go to these events alone,"
Nancy says. "If somebody finds a relationship through our group, that's great. If not, they still have friends and their lives still have a purpose."
In fact, a Single Purpose entourage more often will include six or seven or eight people, rather than just a twosome.
The need for making connections is reflected in Review Magazine's popular For Singles Only feature.
Nancy and her creative co-organizers have fine-tuned a group that seems to keep the singles even more active than a whole lot of couples out there.
Ages run the gamut, similar to Review's personal ads.
The former Nancy Cradit is a 1964 Saginaw High School graduate whose husband, Harry French, never was the same after he fought in Vietnam. She lost him in
1984. She roomed with cousins for a while and gave her love to her only son, who since has given her three grandchildren.
"II was in a support group called Living Through Personal Crisis, but the thought occurred to me that once people work through their grieving process, there aren't many places for them to go," Nancy explains.
"A lot of singles want to do things other than going to bars. Once people's hearts are healed, they will feel better about going out and doing things."
Nancy has teamed up in leadership with Pam Robinson of Bay City, a divorcee for nearly 20 years.
"We get so much security from this. If we have a problem, we know we're not alone and that we can express ourselves," says Pam, a 1979 grad of the former Bay City Handy High School.
"We are all living lives that we didn't choose to have. To keep going, we need to put that one-foot in front of the other by going to meetings, going to events. When I was first divorced, I didn't realize right away that I had a form of depression going. But this group changed my life and made me a better person."
Make It Interesting
The Single Purpose schedule features Bible study on the first Monday of each month, then guest speakers for a couple weeks, and finally cards and board games on the last Monday.
"We try to mix things up, to keep things interesting," Nancy says.
Review Magazine's visit is on a Bible Study night, and the first focus is on prayer requests. One member faces surgery for an aneurism, another has been ripped off on a roofing home repair job, and a third can't figure out how to remove mountains of plowed snow from a sidewalk.
Next comes the theme song that Nancy composed: "We have a Single Purpose, and it's all we need. Jesus saved us, and it's Him we need. All our lives are joined in one accord. Joyfully serving and praising our Lord."
She asks members if they have prepared testimonials for the upcoming conference. Judy reads hers aloud and draws praise. Others chuckle and ask if Judy will write theirs as well. "I wasn't an English
teacher," she responds. "This took me two days!"
Pastor Jerry Larkin of Burt Baptist Church speaks on the theme of 'hope'. He urges that faith be maintained no matter what, similar to "rejoicing in the middle of the storm."
Upon Jerry's conclusion, Judy says that she can't help but ask questions, even with her strong faith. She is concerned not only with her own family, but with a co-worker who is at risk of losing the family’s home to foreclosure.
"It's OK to be worried about it, isn't it?" she asks.
Pastor Larkin answers that faith should overcome worry, and that "God does not always provide the answers we want, when we want them." He also states the parable that eagles fly the highest when they are flying against the wind.
Judy laments that she just can't help it because "I'm a worrier." Susan answers that Ryan should simply listen to friends’ tribulations, explaining, "You don't have to do anything, just listen."
After about an hour, the discussion wraps up.
Nancy again asks for testimonials for the conference. An older fellow asks, "Is that to say, I should write, why am I single?"
Laughter results from around the circle.
Finding A New Life
Nancy and Pam explain later that few people go immediately from a personal loss, be it death or divorce, into a support group. Often years pass.
Pam operates Robin's Nest Day Care after raising three children of her own.
"As a single mom, you wind up in your children's world until they get older," Pam says. "I feel like I've really been a single adult for these past few years, and this is where the Single Purpose group has made such a difference. Suddenly I get to be "Pam' again. This is happening at the right time in my life."
Nancy has made it through a major car crash and has battled cancer into remission, although seizures still can be an issue.
"When I was in the hospital, about 15 people went to my home and cleaned out the garage, washed the windows, vacuumed the carpet," Nancy says.
"There have been similar projects done for other members. Often times our group discusses the 'love languages of singles.'
"This is what our group is all about."
Information? Nancy's number is 799-9228, or
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)