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U.S. News Archive
July 14 - July 20, 2001

 

 

 
This page contains news for the period July 14, 2001 through July 20, 2001.  

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Friday, July 20, 2001

A good and long lasting marriage depends on it's beginnings

A story released today by Reuters Health reports that in the August issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, Dr. Ted L. Huston of the University of Texas at Austin and his research team reports that couples who were happily together 13 years into their marriage had been deeply in love and in tune with each other from the very beginning.

"A successful marriage is one that has maintained a high level of affection right from the start, where both partners behave as lovers and stay that way," said Huston.

Huston and his colleagues followed the long-term relationships of 168 married couples, interviewing partners when they first married, throughout the first 2 years of married life, and finally 13 years after they had taken their vows. Participants were asked about their feelings toward their spouse and the marriage in general.

In contrast, those who were unhappily married reported having a more negative and/or ambivalent relationship toward each other when interviewed as newlyweds.

Among couples headed for divorce, some stayed married longer because they appeared to have unrealistically romantic levels of affection and love as newlyweds. Men and women in these types of relationships seemed initially resistant in recognizing and focusing on their spouse's less appealing qualities, or on their own growing disenchantment with the marriage.

In contrast, couples who experienced friction at the very outset of a marriage headed for the exits at a much quicker pace. The authors theorize that these couples entered into marriage hoping that the simple act of "tying the knot" would turn discord into bliss--only to leave the relationship when this proved futile.

The researchers conclude that partners who maintain long, happy marriages carry between them a deep love, affection and attachment--feelings that first began during courtship.

Houston added that couples headed for the rockiest road are those who had either an extremely long or extremely short courtship prior to marriage.

"Either they don't know each other very well--they fell in love too quickly and they have an unrealistic belief that the romance will continue in the same way over time," he said. "Or it's a long road to marriage, not because they are learning so much about each other, but because they have real problems in the relationship that they're trying to put aside in order to marry. When they discover that marriage doesn't have any magical properties they often quickly exit the relationship."

Seniors swell census count of those living alone in South Carolina

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that the single-person households count in South Carolina has jumped 22 percent to 383,142 people in the past decade, according to the 2000 census.

The single-person household make up a quarter of the total 1,533,854 households in the state. There are 216,453 single women and 166,689 single men.

Statewide, 27 percent of all people 65 and older are living alone. Most are still women, but an increasing number are men.

The number of single seniors is rising largely because people are living longer, said Michelle Liken, a gerontological clinical nurse specialist who is a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Nursing.

"We're going to see a definite increase in home companion programs, where people without spouses are getting help with basic needs at home," Liken said.

"And we're also going to see more assisted-living communities, where people who are still active can live independently but still have access to care. You can see these cropping up all over the place. We're into autonomy in this day and age."

The popularity of assisted-living communities is already evident to Kathy Wikle, marketing director at Wildewood Downs in Northeast Columbia.

Wildewood Downs bills itself as a "retirement neighborhood," where seniors can choose to live in their own separate single-family homes, in duplexes, or in apartments.

Other reasons for more single households includes people waiting longer to marry.

"Marriage these days is looked on as an option more than ever before, rather than a necessity," said Patrick Nolan, a professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina. "If you look back, a 100 years ago, it took a huge amount of labor just to maintain a household. It really took two people.

"These days, with changes in technology and the economy, especially with more economic opportunities for women, living alone is a viable option. More people are choosing never to get married."

Thursday, July 19, 2001

Mississippi Appeals Court rules rudeness is not sufficient grounds for divorce

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that on Tuesday, the Appeals Court of Mississippi threw out a divorce ruling of Alice Susan King who was granted a divorce  decree in 2000 in Hinds County. The Appeals court ruled that her husband's rudeness and unkindness, were not enough reason under state law to end a marriage.

Jackson attorney Donald Boykin, who represents King, said Wednesday he has not seen the Appeals Court ruling and could not comment. King could ask the Appeals Court to reconsider or ask the state Supreme Court to hear the case.

The couple was married in 1994 and lived together until King's husband, Jack Bodne was indicted in September 1997 on three counts of conspiracy to commit murder after making a down payment to an undercover officer, according to the Highway Patrol.

King filed for divorce while Bodne was jailed and began using the name Alice Susan King. They did not get back together after Bodne was freed on bond.

Appeals Judge Roger H. McMillin Jr., writing in Tuesday's 8-2 decision, said King only proved "mere incompatibility, rudeness or even unkindness."

Even though the chancellor found credible King's complaints about crude jokes, cursing and alleged criminal conduct, McMillin said the issues are insufficient for the granting of a divorce.

"We are satisfied that mere indictment for criminal conduct and incarceration pending release on bond are not acts of cruel and inhuman treatment directed toward the opposite spouse such as to support a claim for divorce," McMillin said.

In a dissent, Appeals Judge Mary Libby Payne said any one of the incidents claimed by King justified a divorce. She said King suffered physically, including weight loss, and she needed ongoing psychiatric care in addition to the embarrassment and humiliation of Bodne's behavior.

Payne said the Bodne's alleged use of profanity, shouting, telling of "dirty" jokes, and having child pornography on the company computer, as shown in the court record, "combined to show that Mr. Bodne had created such a revolting situation for his wife as to warrant granting Ms. King a divorce."

"We know that she has indeed suffered physical trauma due to the unfortunate position in which her husband has placed her, namely requiring that she take care of his business while he was in jail, that she endure the continuous lewd storytelling and loud altercations, and that she be forced to take anti-depressant medication. All of Mr. Bodne's acts combine to make the marital relation revolting to Ms. King, as the chancellor found," Payne wrote.

Children living with single-dads more likely to use drugs

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that 6th to 12th graders who live in single-dad homes are more likely than others to use drugs, according to a survey released Thursday.

The survey, done by a division of an Atlanta-based anti-drug organization, also found that high school students use of drugs like heroin, ecstasy and marijuana has increased, reversing a three-year decline in overall drug use. The survey also revealed that cigarette and alcohol use dropped to a 13-year low.

This was the 14th annual survey but officials said it was the first time their group broke down the numbers to look at children who live with their mothers only, fathers only and stepparents. The survey found that 38.4 percent of students who lived with their fathers only said they used drugs. The percentages for other family structures were: father and stepmother, 31.9 percent; mother and stepfather, 29.8 percent; mother only, 28.3 percent; and both parents, 20.4 percent. Thomas Gleaton, who headed the study and president of PRIDE Surveys, said the results aren’t meant to bash fathers. Rather, Gleaton believes the results are a comment on the importance of a mother’s role. "The farther the mother gets away, the more difficult it becomes for the child," Gleaton said.

A spokesman for a group that lobbies for fathers’’ rights said he had no problem with the survey’’s findings.

"This is just one more argument why absent of abuse, neglect or abandonment there should be mandatory joint custody. Children need both parents,"" said Stuart Miller, senior legislative analyst for the American Fathers Coalition.

A survey of teens released in February by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that the risk of drug abuse was slightly higher for children living with single moms than with single dads. It also found drug use was greatly reduced in both types of homes when the parents were "hands on," or supervised their teen-agers and imposed rules. In terms of drug use, the new survey found that 35.3 percent of ninth- to 12th-graders said they had used any illicit drug in the last year, compared with 34.3 percent in 1999-2000.

Gleaton said the increase was statistically significant but added that he was not alarmed because a one-year increase does not necessarily point to a trend.

Officials at the White House’s Office on National Drug Control Policy say they use the survey as a supplement to such national questionnaires as the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, set for release in late August.

"The PRIDE findings reinforce what we already know: youth with strong parental influences and access to local support networks are much less likely to use illegal drugs," Edward Jurith, acting director of the ONDCP, said in a statement.

Thursday, July 19, 2001

Congress to vote on "faith based" charity funding

A story published today by the Orlando Sentinel reports that Republican leaders in Congress postponed a vote Wednesday on one of President Bush's signature issues: a plan to funnel more money to religious charities.

They said the House would take up the "faith-based" initiative today and predicted it would pass. They said they have reached an agreement with Republican moderates concerned about discrimination in federally funded charitable efforts.

"We think we have the votes," said House Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, a chief sponsor of the bill. "But we're also cautious."

The House had been expected to pass the bill Wednesday, but Republican leaders pushed back a vote after complaints by Democrats and moderate Republicans raised doubts about whether they could pass it.

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Rep. Mark Foley, R-West Palm Beach are both concerned that the bill would let a religious group that gets federal funds to build a house for the homeless or run a soup kitchen for the hungry and then lock out unmarried couples, single mothers, homosexuals or others selected groups of people. Both representatives have proposed an amendment that would prohibit groups that get federal funds from violating state and local anti-discrimination laws.

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Salvation Army gets approval to revamp old Florida hospital

A story published today by the St. Petersburg Times reports that the Salvation Army in North Pinellas, Florida will be allowed to convert a vacant hospital to a new Center of Hope, which will provide social services, emergency housing and a medical clinic for pregnant women without insurance.

On Tuesday, the Community Development Board unanimously approved the Salvation Army's plans to transform the defunct Clearwater Community Hospital into a hub of the social service organization's efforts.

But before the decision, about a dozen of the center's future neighbors complained the new center would bring vagrants, drug addicts, crime and other problems into their area.

"I don't want this in my neighborhood," argued one resident, John Tassinari. "They want to bring dope addicts in, bring in all elements of life, bring it into a nice residential area."

The Salvation Army plans to spend $ 2.3-million to renovate the hospital's interior and improve the landscaping on the 7-acre site. Overall, however, there will be few changes to the hospital's exterior. Converting the old hospital will more than double the space that the Salvation Army has for its North Pinellas efforts, according to the group's proposal to the city.

In April, the Salvation Army discovered that the old hospital, vacant for two years, was back on the market after another deal to buy the hospital collapsed. The Salvation Army quickly decided to purchase the 92,400-square-foot facility from a company affiliated with HCA - the Healthcare Co. for a price of $ 1.5-million.

But before the Salvation Army's plans could go forward, the organization had to get the Community Development Board's approval Tuesday to place a new social services facility in with a neighborhood bordering one side. Among the programs to be located at the hospital will be expanded emergency housing: eight housing units for people with AIDS, 14 units for families needing emergency shelter and six units for single people trying to make a transition from being homeless. There will be a new medical clinic for pre- and post-natal care for pregnant women and space for the Salvation Army's administrative offices.

In addition, the hospital will become the home of the Salvation Army's program to provide probation officers to misdemeanor offenders and also the AIDS Community Project of Tampa Bay, one of the oldest groups in the county that assists people with AIDS.

The pressures of being single

A story published by the Christian Science Monitor reports that the pressure to marry feels like a piano on the back of some singles _ especially women. But some women and men revel in the freedom of singledom. They plunge into their careers, and enjoy the freedom of not being tied down.

According to recent Census data, more people are waiting to marry. In 1970, the median age at first marriage was 20.8 years for women and 23.2 years for men. By 2000, these ages had risen to 25.1 and 26.8 years.

Some people, of course, never marry, and their numbers are growing. According to the 2000 Census, 31 percent of men and 25 percent of women aged 15 and over had never married, contrasted with 28 and 22 percent in 1970.

But even while the "acceptable" age of marriage has been pushed higher, subtle social pressures still burrow into the thoughts of single people. Call it the "itch to hitch" or, as one expert put it, the "urge to merge." It's a universal feeling among singles, but the two sexes react to it differently.

"Women are torn between the stigmatization of being single and the glamorization of being single." says Dr. Karen Gail Lewis, a marriage and family therapist.

The glamorization is more overt, with movies, songs, and sitcoms that show single life as liberating and sexy. Whereas the stigma takes a more subtle form, such as "Kiss and Ride" signs at train and bus stations, and billboards showing happy, canoodling couples.

"For women, the covert message is: It's your job to find a man. That's part of the cultural message that has been passed down through the generations," Lewis says. "If she is in her early 30s and hasn't found a man, [the question becomes] what is she doing wrong."

But waiting too long may be shooting yourself in the foot. The prospects for marriage after 30 decrease, says Norval Glenn, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin.

"There's the data that show ... the marriage market for women gets more constricted. As they get older, the sex ratio changes," says Dr. Norval Glenn, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin. "... There is the feeling that you better strike while the iron is hot, you better take advantage of your opportunities to marry in your 20s, at least, or else you may not have opportunities later."

According to experts, men don't help the problem. They tend to scan the menu, so to speak, but don't always order. "One thing that's discouraging marriage among college women is the sex ratio," Glenn says. "There's just not enough men to go around on college campuses anymore. And furthermore, the abundance of women, relative to men, I think, decreases the willingness of men to enter into monogamous relationships."

The findings in Glenn's study- a national phone survey of 1,000 single, heterosexual women plus in-depth interviews gleaned from 60 women at 10 colleges- ran counter to what many expected.

"There seems to be a lot of pressure not to marry too young. A lot of mothers are saying, for example, 'Don't do what I did, I married too young,' " says Glenn. But, he admits, the pendulum does swing back after a woman passes 30. "I think especially the mothers start wanting grandchildren ... and [the attitude toward postponing marriage] does change."

Lewis, the therapist, says society doesn't blame men.

"For men, when they get over 30 and they're not married, it's not 'What are you doing wrong?' It's 'Oh, he's focusing on his work first or he hasn't found the right one yet.' "

Finding the "right one" is where many singles hit a snag. After seeing friends and parents go through divorce, they're not about to jump into anything prematurely. A recent Rutgers University study found 94 percent of people between 20 and 29 agreed that "When you marry, you want your spouse to be your soul mate, first and foremost."

"It really provides a very unrealistic view of what marriage really is. The standard becomes so high, it's easy to bail out if you didn't find a soul mate," David Popenoe, a Rutgers sociologist and one of the authors of the study, told the Associated Press.

Tuesday, July 17, 2001

Seniors are not exempted from practicing safe sex

A story published today by the Washington Post reports that for most of the 20 years since the start of the AIDS epidemic, people 50 and over have accounted for a steady 10 percent of all new AIDS cases diagnosed annually. But a few years ago, that rate began an ominous climb -- to 11.6 percent in 1997, 12.7 percent in 1998 and 13.4 percent in 1999, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The fastest-rising route of transmission in this age group is nothing exotic like needle use -- it's heterosexual sex. A 1996 CDC breakdown -- the most recent available -- of AIDS cases in individuals 50 or older showed cases transmitted heterosexually increased 94 percent in men and 106 percent in women between 1991 and 1996.

While the number of cases remains relatively small -- 1,400 heterosexual AIDS cases diagnosed nationally among those 50 and older in 1996, up from 700 in 1991 -- experts say those numbers don't tell the whole story. Because seniors are less likely than others to get tested for HIV, many observers are worried that the problem may be larger than the numbers suggest -- and still growing.

HIV among seniors "is a real concern . . . and there's reason to think it could become more of a problem," says Helene Gayle, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention. "There is a need to make sure people are more aware of the issue. I definitely think more can be done to get information to this population."

It's a fact: Because most at-risk seniors -- including those with multiple sex partners, those who have had a blood transfusion between 1979 and 1985, and anyone whose partner has a known behavioral risk -- don't think they are hazarding infection, most don't get tested for HIV. The 1994 Archives of Internal Medicine study found this held true for 90 percent of at-risk seniors -- making them one-fifth as likely to get tested compared to at-risk individuals in their twenties.

"Nobody knows what's going on with the older adult," says Joseph Catania of the University of California at San Francisco, one of the country's leading AIDS researchers and co-author of the 1994 study.

Even when seniors develop AIDS-related symptoms like wasting, dementia and pneumonia, doctors frequently don't think to test them for HIV. "It is clear from a number of recent studies that older patients may not be tested for HIV as often as younger persons, based on the mistaken belief that they are not at risk," says David Rimland, chief of infectious diseases for the Atlanta VA Medical Center. "These patients will continue to potentially transmit the virus until they are diagnosed."

Seniors themselves often assume their AIDS-related symptoms are simply part of the aging process. "The older person says, 'Well, all my friends have aches and pains,' " says AIDS researcher Amy Justice, staff physician at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

Society makes a lot of erroneous assumptions about old people -- one is that sex stops somewhere around 60.

Sexual behavior surveys suggest something else. According to a 1999 survey sponsored by AARP, one-third of men and one-fourth of women ages 60 to 74 have sex at least once a week.

Seniors are having sex, and "lots of it, whenever they want it," says Lisa Agate, HIV/AIDS program director at the Broward County Health Department in Florida, which holds safe sex seminars for older residents. In retirement communities, she says, people have time on their hands, and a man of 70 or 80 who can still drive is viewed as "a hot commodity."

While agencies are doing more than they used to, "you can say we probably are not doing as much as we should, and probably too little, too late," says Thomas Obisesan, chief of Howard University Hospital's geriatrics department and medical director for the Washington Center for Aging Services, a 262-bed nursing home.

"Physicians in general are not as sensitive as they should be to the issue of HIV in seniors," Obisesan says. The consequence of continued failure to educate doctors and seniors, he says, "is going to be very, very significant."

Jane Fowler, a founder of NAHOF who has given more than 400 talks on the subject, says that while some people are waking up to the problem, most still are just not getting it. "Too many in the older population don't realize what's out there, and they don't realize that they are at risk," she says.

Divorced mothers worry about children’s marriages

A story published today by Newsday reports that divorced mothers often worry about their own children’s marriages.

Those concerns are valid, says Harold Pass, director of the psychiatry outpatient department at University Hospital and Medical Center at Stony Brook. After all, statistics from the Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit group Americans for Divorce Reform indicate that children from divorced families are 50 percent more likely to divorce than their counterparts from intact families.

Unfortunately, experts say they can't allay the concerns of divorced parents. "I think we're all uncertain about what will happen to our children," says Andrew J. Cherlin, a leading authority on the effects of divorce on children. "Today's children have seen divorce happen. They know how to do it and they know they've survived it. They may be less likely to stay in an unhappy marriage than someone for whom divorce is a foreign concept."

However, no one really knows what the future holds for these children, says Cherlin, a sociologist and professor of public policy at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. "Will they be doubly committed to marriage because they've seen the effects of divorce, or will they be more likely to divorce? We don't know, and a lot of parents are wondering about that."

Of course, no one can predict the future, but one way to help children avoid divorce is to emphasize the downside of making impulsive decisions. "Young people should never rush into marriage," says Dr. Kenneth Skodnek, chairman of the department of psychiatry and psychology at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. "The longer they know someone, the better they know them, the better chance they'll make a good decision. It certainly isn't a guarantee, but getting to know someone beyond the mere courtship stage is important."

"The best advice you can give is to acknowledge that there might be a problem, and suggest that help is available," says Pass. "When you invite your daughter to come home, you're not helping her change or improve a situation. Offering platitudes like 'don't make the mistakes I made' can only inflame a situation because you're basically implying that your daughter is making mistakes."

That's why mothers - even though they mean well - should stay out of any marital problems their sons or daughters might have. "Meddling is destructive," Pass says, "and trying to come across as having all the right answers is alienating and diminishes the adult daughter's capabilities. You want to validate and encourage and support growth and development." Instead of being intrusive, Pass recommends talking about possible ways of getting help

Monday, July 16, 2001

Financial advice to help single parents

A story published today by the Dallas Morning News reports that the recently released Census report shows an increase of families headed by a single parent. So, planning for the financial future for these families takes a greater deal of preparation.

"The normal rules and advice that apply to married couples don't apply for single parents," says Deirdre Weaver, author of Loosely-Braided Fog: A 3-D Single Mom In The Making and a speaker for the American Association for Single People in Glendale, Calif., an advocacy group for singles.

That doesn't mean that single parents and coupled parents don't have the same financial concerns. It's just that for single moms and dads, the pressure to get it right is more intense because they're it.

"If you don't plan, it doesn't get done because there is no other parent out there doing it," says Joan Gruber, a Certified Financial Planner at Joan M. Gruber Advisors in Dallas.

More than 20 million children, or more than 27 percent of young people, now live in a single-parent household, says Thomas F. Coleman, executive director of the single people association.

And while most single-parent homes are headed by women, a growing number of men also are raising children on their own, he said. The number of single dads grew 25 percent between 1995 and 1998, from 1.7 million to 2.1 million, while the number of single moms remained constant at about 9.8 million.

But be it a single mom or dad, experts say single parents need to realize that just because their income is cut in half, doesn't mean their expenses will be as well. It's not that simple.

In fact, a single-parent family who had a child last year can expect to spend a total of about $164,090 through age 17 for housing, food, transportation, clothing, health care, child care and education, and miscellaneous expenses, according to Expenditures on Children by Families, a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Those numbers apply to single-parent families with pretax incomes of less than $38,000. And most single-parent households fall in that category, says Mark Lino, an economist with the agriculture department.

"Single-parent families in this lower income group spend a larger proportion of their income on their children," he said. "As single-parent families have one less potential earner (the absent partner), their total household income is lower and child-rearing expenses consume a greater percentage of income."

This doesn't mean that single parents can't make a life for themselves and their children. They just have to be aware on how they spend their money. Among the things to keep in mind:

- Do a budget and stick to it as best as you can.

- Cut your debt as much as possible.

- Talk to the kids about the finances.

- Protect what you have with adequate insurance.

- And continue saving –– even if it's a small amount.

"I don't think people realize what financial dire straits a single parent can be in," says Ms. Weaver, 43, who's divorced and the mother of a 15-year-old son. "The rest of the world doesn't understand that vacations don't happen. I buy a CD for myself once a year."

In addition, single parents should also try to cut their expenses as much as possible and be frank with the children about the family's finances.

"I've heard single mothers struggling with finances saying, 'The kids have to have the Nikes, the designer jeans," says Carol Ann Wilson, founder of The Institute for Certified Divorce Planners in Boulder, Colo., which trains financial planners on the financial issues of divorce.

"If the mother would tell the kids how much money they have and that she can't afford what they want, they're going to help Mom, they're going to help money stretch."

Protect what you have with adequate amounts of insurance.

Make sure you have disability insurance, which will pay you if disability interrupts your income stream.

Have enough life insurance to pay your debts after you die and to ensure that your kids will have enough money for college and living expenses.

Finally, have a carefully crafted estate plan.

"If you go and have none of this, you just don't know what will happen to your kids," Ms. Weaver says. "What people don't realize is, you really are the single link in what happens to your kids if you go –– suddenly, especially."

Divorcing couples should get financial guidance

A story published today by the De Moines Register reports that for couples going through a divorce or separation, the process and proceedings can be financially devastating.

Carol Young, a divorce planner and financial adviser with American Express Financial Advisors Inc. says, she assists clients in assuring equitable long-term divorce settlements. She works with both parties to ensure that a division of a household concludes on a positive note, rather than financial ruin.

"There are a lot of variables that go into the division of property," Young said. "It's more than just net worth. My job is to take into consideration the value of those assets so they have more long-term equity."

"What occurs in those situations has an impact on the present and future," Young noted. "I think sometimes that's overlooked."

Managing a client's finances after the divorce is one aspect absent from Young's job duties.

Typically, Young works with a couple or individual while the marriage is in dissolution. Her work is done when the divorce is final. Afterward, if clients are in need of further assistance, she refers them to other advisers.

Chris Korte, a certified financial planner with Franke & Associates, a branch of American Express Financial Advisors, recently worked with Young on a case that went to arbitration. Korte said the purpose of bringing Young in on the case was to get her client just resolution.

"Carol's job is to find what's a fair settlement for what went into the relationship," she said. "Many times, lawyers and judges don't have the first clue of the financial value in a divorce."

Korte said Young also sometimes acts as mediator in a situation that can be stressful for most people.

"A divorce can be a tough thing to swallow," she said. "In this situation, Carol tries to make it as nice as it can be, and as agreeable as it can be."

Singles are a diverse group in Greenwich, CT

A story published today by the Greenwich Time reports that singles account for 36 percent of Greenwich, Connecticut's adult population, but the raw numbers say hardly anything about what it means to be single. Among the 16,533 single people the U.S. Census Bureau counted in town in the spring of 2000, many have partners, but some have no significant others to rely on. Some live alone, while others live with a roommate or two.

The census did not break down single people by age group, except to note that there are 2,309 people age 65 and older who live alone in Greenwich. But the town's overall age breakdown suggests that most singles here are in their 30s and older. Only 14 percent of Greenwich residents are between the ages of 20 and 34. Sixty percent are 35 or older.

Indeed, the town's resources reveal more about the single population than the numbers do. Greenwich has few bars and restaurants that cater to young people, but the town has more than a dozen singles groups and support services, which tend to attract people in their 30s and older.

The Greenwich Senior Center serves more than 600 single seniors. A few never married, but the vast majority of them are widows or widowers, Director Kari Diefenbach said.

"It was very difficult when you've been part of a pair and suddenly find yourself alone," said Diefenbach, who was widowed five years ago. "When you go out with people you've been friends with all your life, you find that you're the third wheel or the fifth wheel."

But resident Bob Brooker, 69, says he's more inclined to start his own group than join an existing one. Since divorcing in 1984, Brooker has founded singles groups in Chicago and Greenwich. In both cases, he started the groups after moving to a new city and wanting to find a social outlet.

The Cotton Club, which Brooker cofounded in Greenwich, has more than 300 members. The group grew out of a divorced person's group at Christ Church Greenwich. Today, it has members of all faiths, and fewer than 10 are members of the church, he said.

The Cotton Club caters mostly to people in their 40s, 50s and 60s, Brooker said. Young people call him all the time inquiring about the club, he said, but they are understandably less enthusiastic about joining when they learn most of the members are much older.

"I wish I could refer them to someone," Brooker said. "But there are no young singles groups in the area that I know of."

Ryan Hoster, a bouncer at Sundown Saloon in Greenwich, prefers to go out in Stamford or Norwalk. The crowds that pack the bars there tend to be a little younger and more open to meeting new people, he said.

"When you go out with a group of guys in Greenwich, you leave with the same pack of guys," he said. "When you go out with a group in Stamford, you leave a few guys short, or your group gets larger."

Hoster typifies a trend among Greenwich's younger singles: few live and socialize in Greenwich. Many young singles who live in Greenwich say it's more fun to go out in Stamford, Norwalk or Manhattan, and many others socialize in Greenwich because they work here, but at the end of the night they go home to Stamford or Norwalk.

Colette Donegan, 24, who lives on Greenwich Avenue, says "There is a good selection of bars and restaurants here, but it definitely appeals to an older crowd."

 

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