Senior and Social

Ross Sugg and Gerrie Sinclair share a smile at a Kitsap Senior event. - Erin Jennings
Ross Sugg and Gerrie Sinclair share a smile at a Kitsap Senior event.
— image credit: Erin Jennings

When Susan Rodgers moved to Kingston from Houston, Texas, she hoped it would be like “Grandma’s kitchen” where people would invite her over for coffee and cookies. Instead, she found out she had to prove herself.

And the way to prove herself?

“By volunteering. Become part of the community and prove that you are here to stay,” Rodgers said.

Not only has Rodgers proven she’s here to stay, she helped break the ice for others. Two years ago, she began Cleo’s Classic Singles. Once a month, a group of singles age 50 and older get together for a potluck meal and a chance to socialize.

“We’ve had one matching in the two years,” Rodgers said. “They are a couple in their late 50’s. Both are tall and lean and they found things they enjoy doing together.”

The daughter in-law of the couple told Rodgers, “He can’t hear, and she talks all the time, so it’s a match made in heaven.”

While the members think it’s great there was a pairing, they emphasized that the goal of the group isn’t only about romance. Being part of the group gives them a sense of community and camaraderie.

Recent Floridan transplant Ron Hunt believes senior singles have a choice.

Looking around the room Hunt asked, “There are what, 15 people here? But there are probably 500 singles within a 10-mile radius, and they are home watching TV. You have to make your choice. You won’t walk in here and feel isolated.”

Psychologists agree. In 1943, Abraham Maslow developed his “Hierarchy of Needs,” defining basic human needs as food, water, shelter and safety. Once those are met, the next most important need revolves around social interaction.

According to Maslow, humans need to feel a sense of belonging. We need friends and the ability to give and receive love. Lacking social interaction can lead to loneliness and depression.

Friendships are often formed around situations. As children, we met friends at school. As adults, we formed friendships in the work place. As parents, we bonded with other parents.

What happens once we retire? Or when the children move out? What happens after a divorce, or if a spouse dies?

The social circle shrinks and the opportunity to meet others becomes more challenging.

Seniors meeting SENIORS

Rublee Davis understands the need of being social. She helps organize a similar Kitsap Senior Singles Group that meets in Central Kitsap.

Once a month, they gather for a potluck meal and games. The group has an active roster of 125 people and at a recent Senior Singles gathering about 40 seniors joined in the fun. Many of them were first-time attendees.

“We are a group of people who have the need of being with others and making new friends,” Davis said.

The need for socializing was a common theme. “We are all trying to get out of the house,” said Pat Lanier. “It’s important that we don’t stay at home.” Those seated around Lanier chimed in agreement.

Newcomer Donna Phillips recently moved to Keyport from Edmonds. She is still learning her way around the area and attended the gathering in the hopes of meeting others.

When Phillips introduced herself, the woman next to her said, “That’s my last name!” Bernice Phillips and Donna shared a chuckle over the coincidence.

Members of both senior groups agreed that Kitsap lacks a strong singles scene.

“There isn’t any!” Rodgers shrieked.

She hopes her group fills a void and provides people with a place to congregate.

Maria Marsala attended the recent North Kitsap gathering. She said it took her awhile to decide to attend the meetings. “I don’t know how many times I saw it in the newspaper before I finally said ‘Okay, I’ll go.’ I cut it out a bunch of times.”

Ross Sugg attended the recent gathering in Central Kitsap after cutting out the newspaper listing and carrying it in his pocket. “I’m by myself now, so I’m trying to get into the crowd,” he said.

People like Sugg are exactly who the singles organizations want to reach.

Around Sugg the room buzzed with conversation. Folks squeezed in around the tables and chairs were added. New friendships were forming as a void was being filled.

Rosemary Raines helped organize the Central Kitsap group.

“Our main goal is to get people out ” she said. “A lot of them have lost a mate and don’t know where to go or what to do. They are terribly lonely. Our goal is to get people to socialize.”

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