Nat’l group helps spread holiday cheer to single parents

  • Friday, November 29, 2013

The holidays are full of tradition and celebration, but they’re not always a happy time of year for single parents who find themselves alone.

But Parents Without Partners (PWP), a national single parent support organization, has a message that no one has to be alone during the holidays.

“People do need people, and there are some things that we can help with like emotional support,” said Donna Jensen, acting president of the PWP Lowcountry chapter. “If you’re single because of death, divorce, whatever it is, you need to find yourself first. For me, Parents Without Partners was a way to do that.”

For Jensen, PWP gave her the kind of support she needed to help manage her family.

“My husband died in 1987 and I had 9- and 10-year-old boys at the time. I had no male support in my life, but the men of that organization were there to support my boys. If I was dating a man and he told my boys what to do, they would have resented it. But if a man from [PWP] told them what to do, they’d immediately follow. The boys had already gotten his respect,” she said.

She clarified the organization is not a dating group, although the friendships parents make can sometimes turn romantic.

“We’ve had members who’ve met and married,” she said. “It’s because they can build that strong base and get to know one another, they get to see the person in real time, not all dressed up for a first date.”

Jensen said there are many benefits of membership, including the opportunity to make friends through the group’s many events. They host educational, family and parent activities for the members’ benefit. The Lowcountry chapter has more than a dozen events on its December calendar.

Members can also benefit from PWP because it is a national organization. Each chapter is part of a larger regional category, which in turn is part of a larger zone category. That way members who join PWP and later move to another area may still be connected to familiar parts of the group.

For example, Zone L is comprised of South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. Those who joined the Lowcountry chapter and then moved to another one of those states would still recognize Jensen in the larger organization, as she is the Zone L administrative vice president.

Jensen, who’s been a part of PWP for 17 years, said she enjoys being a part of PWP because she has the opportunity to hold leadership positions. She also enjoys doing community service with other members and helping others by sharing her story.

“Parents Without Partners enhances therapy [a parent might be going through] because I’ve been in that situation before, I’ve survived it, I’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel. … Many times therapists have never been in that situation and are trying to work with single parents.”

The Lowcountry chapter spans across the area and includes “West Ashley, Mount Pleasant, Summerville and everything in between.” Jensen said while the chapter only has 14 members currently, she’s constructed the group’s December events calendar to attract a younger generation of families, which she hopes will rejuvenate the group. Membership costs $40 per year and payment plans are available.

For more information on the Lowcountry chapter of Parents Without Partners, contact Donna Jensen at 843-771-4787 or jensen.pwp@gmail.com.

Parents Without Partners December Events

Dec. 3 (Tuesday): CSU Carols in the Round, 7:30 - 8:30 p.m., Charleston Southern University, Hwy 78, $5

Dec. 5 (Thursday): Winter Wonderland, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., Charleston

Dec. 5 (Thursday): Living Christmas Story, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m., meet at Main Street Arby’s

Dec. 6 (Friday): Let’s Eat Out, 6 - 7:30 p.m., Madra Rue in Park Circle

Dec. 6 (Friday): Contra Dance, 7:30 - 10: 30 p.m., Park Circle

Dec. 8 (Sunday): Summerville Christmas Parade, 2 p.m., Main Street

Dec. 9 (Monday): Orientation, 6 - 7 p.m., Main Street Chik-Fil-A, RSVP required

Dec. 10 (Tuesday): Discussion on “Keeping the Holiday Season Merry while being SIngle,” 6 p.m., Dorchester Library

Dec. 14 (Saturday): Christmas Dance with Senior Sensations, 7:30 - 11 p.m., Sherman House in West Ashley, $5, parents only

Dec. 18 (Wednesday): Orientation, 6 - 7 p.m., Rivers Ave. Chik-Fil-A, RSVP required

Dec. 19 (Thursday): James Island Lights, 6 p.m., meet at Folly Road Chik-Fil-A, RSVP required

Dec. 20 (Friday): Brookgreen Gardens Thousand Lights, 1:30 - 11:30 p.m., Murrells Inlet, $16/adult, $8/child, RSVP required

Dec. 21 (Saturday): Christmas Party and Gift Exchange, 7 - 10 p.m., less than $10, parents only, RSVP required

Dec. 22 (Sunday): Sunday on King Street, 2 - 5 p.m., meet at Charleston Place

Dec. 23 (Monday): Orientation, 6 - 7 p.m., Main Street Chik-Fil-A, RSVP required

Contact Donna Jensen for more information or to RSVP, (843) 771-4787

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