- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 1, 2002

The following groups offer single-parent support in the metro area:

•Black Men Raising Girls Alone, PO Box 562, Lanham, MD 20703. Founded four years ago in Prince George's County by single father Gregory Jones after his daughters' mother moved out, the Christian group BMRGA has grown into a national organization with a focus on education for the single custodial father. Local membership numbers about 40.

Activities focus on monthly adult-only meetings featuring specific discussion topics. Recent topics have included how to keep your daughter in contact with her mother's side of the family and what to do when your daughter feels caught in the middle between both parents.

Summertime, holidays and Black History Month are reserved for family activities.

For membership information, call 301/464-4500. Web site: www.bmrga.com.

•Jewish Single Parent Connection, 6125 Montrose Road, Rockville, MD 20852. The JSPC, initially sponsored by the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, is a faith-based support group for single families. Family and adult events range from lectures to dances to hikes to parties and dinners, and the group welcomes non-Jewish guests as well.

Garry Laskin has been involved in leading the group for six years.

"Single parents juggle a lot of balls between work, children, doing battle with former spouses and trying to meet new people, and it just goes on and on and on," he says. Although there are "a couple thousand or more" Jewish single parents in the metro area, Mr. Laskin notes that he has seen attendance at JSPC events decrease dramatically during the past year.

"I don't know whether it's a sign of the times or people just don't go out anymore," he says, "but this group is here for whoever needs us, whenever they need us."

To contact the JSPC, call 301/881-0100, Ext. 6753. Web site: the Jewish Information and Referral Service of Greater Washington at www.jirs.org.

•Parents Without Partners International Inc.,1650 South Dixie Highway, Suite 510, Boca Raton, FL 33432; 561/391-8833. Founded in 1957, PWP has 400 chapters and more than 50,000 members in the United States and Canada.

Julie Klinkner helps organize activities for the Young Set, a PWP subgroup in Chapter 60 (Montgomery County and the District) for those with children age 18 and younger.

PWP offers a mixture of adult and family-friendly events, but Ms. Klinkner says the monthly and semimonthly dances are among the most popular. Held in a Knights of Columbus hall in Silver Spring, they feature a disc jockey and cash bar and attract "a pretty mixed group," she says.

Contact PWP in Montgomery County (202/638-1320); Glen Burnie (410/787-2798); Annapolis (410/987-1751); Howard County (410/381-2650); Fairfax (703/866-7896); Alexandria (703/683-1522); and Prince William County (703/878-0288). Web site: www.parentswithoutpartners.org.

•Single Parents Community Network of the Greater Washington area, based in Arlington, has more than 330 members in Northern Virginia, Maryland and the District.

A single parent is eligible for membership if his or her child's other parent is not currently a member. Meetings are scheduled around activities for single-parent families or for single parents and include an annual summer camping trip, water-park outings, potluck picnics, hikes, children's theater events, Mother's Day and Father's Day potluck meals, and adults-only nights out.

"SPCN's strength is its core of volunteer leaders and the many volunteers who plan and lead the activities each month," says Gina Urgena, a founder and the current executive director. "It's a 'support' group in many different ways."

For more information, call SPCN at 703/855-4791. Web site: www.spcn.org.

•Single Parents Raising Kids Inc. (Spark), PO Box 0288, Rockville, MD 20848. Formed in 1987, Spark primarily serves the Montgomery County area and welcomes members who are separated or divorced, never married, widowed or adoptive parents with a children under the age of 18.

Spokeswoman Karen Greger says the organization sponsors a variety of activities that include family, educational and adult social events, and members try to balance the calendar of events to appeal to all age levels.

Most single parents feel financial and time crunches, she says, so to find ways to get away for special time with their children can be challenging.

"You may not have the luxury of buying plane tickets and getting out of town, but something like a camping trip over your visitation weekend may be just as rewarding," she says.

For more information, call Spark at 301/598-6395. Web site: www.corphome.com/spark.

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