Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Good Shepherd Social Support Group

By Laura Acchiardo The Message Intern
Good Shepherd Social Support meetings feature lunch.

Losing a spouse, whether by death or divorce, is never easy. But the members of Evansville's Good Shepherd Social Support group choose to enjoy the present instead of dwelling on the past.

"I have gone to other support groups, and all they do is sit there and cry, and talk about the hardships they have gone through," Social Support organizer Timmie Lingo said, "and these people don't want that. They want to have something where they can forget everything for a while and put it aside. And we find that's what we have."

At Noon on the third Sunday of every month, the Social Support group meets in Good Shepherd's cafeteria for a good meal catered by Pam Stevens of PMS Catering. They also play games like Clabber and Skip-Bo, and chat with the other members. Lingo coordinates the monthly meetings with help from Marcella Dougherty and Dorothy Gooch.

"I enjoy it," Mary Lou Davis, a member of Social Support group, said. "I look forward to it every month, and I enjoy seeing the women and catching up with them. They talk and tell us where they go to church and their maiden names. It's a time to enjoy each other's company."

Good Shepherd Social Support began in 1997 when Father Ted Tempel asked Lingo to organize and lead the group. Starting out with 15 people, the group has grown over the years and now includes 63 members. Whether divorced or widowed, the support group invites all men and women of different parishes and different faiths to join them.

"It's open to men and women," Lingo said. "However, we have not been able to keep any men because the women overpower them and scare them away. I guess we're too good at Clabber. But we have people from all over Evansville and Boonville; some Protestants, and even a Jewish woman."

When a group member passes away, Social Support commemorates his or her life by hosting a mass at Good Shepherd and donating money for the service. Lingo also puts their obituaries in a scrapbook to remember and celebrate the lives of past members.

Social Support also gives back to the community. At every meeting, “half pot” tickets are sold to the members. Half the pot goes to the member whose ticket is drawn and the group donates the other half other half to local causes.

Though a divorce or death of a spouse can be devastating, Social Support makes the best of it. The group’s mission is "to alleviate the pain of loneliness by meeting new people in the same situation and sharing experiences in coping with life alone – less stressful and more enjoyable."

"People come,” Lingo said, "and feel a little more relaxed … where they can get away from all the worry and the pain that they had during their loved ones’ illnesses."