When the non-denominational Moving On After Moving In women’s group started five years ago at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Denver, it began as a support-group-like setting for women who recently moved to the area and felt isolated.
The program quickly expanded, however, when group leaders, including Candy Perry of Denver, realized there are many circumstances other than being new to an area that can make a woman feel isolated.
The program “gives women tools to help cope with life changes,” said Perry. These changes range from the loss of a spouse, divorce or death in the family to retiring from the workforce.
“Whether (the women are) new or just feel new to the area … the main theme is that the women feel isolated.”
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One example was a woman who retired after 20 years of commuting to work in Charlotte. She realized she did not really know anybody who lived in the community where she lived because all of her connections were in Charlotte.
Not knowing what to do with her newly free time, she attended a Moving On After Moving In class session.
“Some of the women have had really drastic changes in their lives,” said Perry.
The class sessions have been held each spring and fall for the last five years. On Sept. 17, the class will begin its 10th session.
Perry, a retired school high school teacher, was approached about leading classes by the Holy Spirit Catholic Church’s activities committee after it decided the Moving On After Moving In program should be offered to the community.
The program is taught across the nation and on military bases internationally but is especially popular in the South because of large numbers of people moving to the region, said Perry.
Now, Perry and four other women facilitate the group. “It is a team effort,” said Perry.
The group sessions, which range in size from 15 to 25 participants, meet over 10 weeks to study the book “After the Boxes Are Unpacked: Moving On After Moving In” by Susan Miller. After the group meets, the participating women often go out to lunch together.
Over the years of the program, 165 women have participated. Attendees range in age from the 20s to the 90s; from young mothers to long-retired seniors. The women come from all over Lake Norman and the greater Charlotte area, not only from Denver.
“The biggest thing is to see how the women bond. The classes get very close,” said Perry.
“One of the benefits is that women wanted to continue these newly-found connections,” so special groups for program alumni were created.
The program now has a thriving alumni community, with a wide variety of break-off groups led by various members of the nine class sessions.
These groups range from book, exercise and craft clubs to day travel groups and Bunco players. Once a month, an alumni luncheon is held. The luncheons are “generally well attended,” said Perry, and sometimes include a speaker or theme, like a “Mad Hatter” luncheon.
Perry is grateful to teach in the program and to the Rev. Carmen Malacari and Denver’s Holy Spirit Catholic Church for supporting it with help such as facilities and copier-machine use, she said.
“It’s really an outreach program to the community.”
Marjorie Dana is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to go?
The Moving On After Moving In group begins meeting at 10 a.m. Sept. 17 at Holy Spirit Catholic Church Parish Activity Center, 537 N.C. 16 Business in Denver. To register, or for more information, contact Candy Perry at 704-489-1696 or Nancy O’Brien at 704-483-4262.