DRIFT — Two local residents are working to bring chapters of a support group for single parents to eastern Kentucky.
Floyd County resident Janet Gallinati, the president of Parents without Partners International, and Knott County resident Joanna Woods Collins are working to establish chapters of the organization to help single parents in Floyd, Pike, Knott and Perry counties.
Parents Without Partners was founded in 1957 in New York by two single parents who felt they were “isolated” from society because they were divorced.
As the largest international nonprofit membership organization dedicated to helping single parents and their children, Parents Without Partners now has numerous chapters in the U.S. and Canada. The two chapters Gallinati and Collins plan to open would be the first chapters in eastern Kentucky.
The all-volunteer chapters offer educational activities, family activities and social activities to help single parents and their children recover from the loss of a parent because of divorce or death, among other reasons.
Gallinati got involved with Parents Without Partners after her ex-husband left her 16 years ago.
“I had been married for 23 years and my husband walked out on me,” she said. “I worked with a girl who was a member of this organization and she took me to a meeting. Luckily, people were very receptive. They took me under their wings. I met so many wonderful people through the organization that I stayed with it.”
Her daughter was in her final year of college, her youngest son was 14 years old and her other son was graduating high school when her marriage dissolved. She didn’t know what to do.
“All of my friends were married, and even though they continued to include me in whatever activity they were doing, I always felt like the fifth wheel,” she said.
The group helped her find single friends and gave her educational and emotional support she needed to recover from the divorce.
She moved to Drift more than a decade ago and was elected president of the Parents Without Partners International two years ago.
She encourages all single parents in eastern Kentucky to get involved.
“We’re not a dating service,” she said. “We are a support group and we try to help parents get through whatever they are trying to get through, whether it’s divorce, a death or any other reason they’ve become a single parent.”
She explained that parents who get involved will receive education and information they need to make sure their kids do well after the loss of a parent. They will also enjoy social activities with other single parents and family events to strengthen their relationship with their child or children.
“We’ve all been there,” she said. “It’s all about getting you and your children healthy so you can function. Mom and Dad may have gotten a divorce, but as long as the mom and dad come out healthy, then the kids will come out healthy. If Mom or Dad come out bitter, well, the kids pick up on everything. We’re here to help them find a way to be happy again.”
She said there’s been a good response in Knott County. She expects the same type of response in Floyd and Pike counties.
“I think there is a definite need,” she said. “It’s something totally different than what I’ve ever seen in eastern Kentucky.”