- Associated Press - Sunday, January 26, 2020

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) - There’s a new Facebook group taking part of Owensboro - women ages 50 and older - by storm.

On Jan. 1, the Owensboro Women Over 50 Friendship Group formed.

Already, it has more than 1,800 members.

To shorten the name, they call themselves OWLS, or Owensboro Women Living Socially.

They bond over bowling and bunco. They raise money for nonprofits, enjoy weekly lunch dates and share exercise tips, among other activities.

“We didn’t want to be just another Facebook group,” said Pam Lewis, the group’s founder and one of six group administrators.

So far, the only rules are no negative comments and no politics.

Not long ago, Lewis and her husband, Mike Lewis, didn’t feel like they fit in very well in Owensboro. The empty-nesters talked about moving to a Florida seniors community.

When they thought about staying in Owensboro, her big question was: “What are we going to do with our lives?”

So Lewis created the Facebook group as a way to develop friendships with people her own age.

The initial response was overwhelming.

In the beginning, people from other states joined. Even a man hooked up with the group.

As a way to ensure OWLS’ purity - women only who are 50 and older - the group assigned six administrators, who must approve new members. The administrators are Lewis, Marlene Cox, Natalie Brown, Vicki Edwards, Jackie Pyland-Tipmore and Julie Durbin.

And they’ve never looked back.

The group printed OWLS T-shirts, which sold like hotcakes. Proceeds will benefit St. Benedict’s Women & Family Services.

In addition, the group has asked all 1,800 members to donate $1 each to St. Benedict’s new facility.

Proceeds from monthly bunco games will go to the Senior Community Center of Owensboro-Daviess County.

“Not only are we having fun, but we are helping our community,” Lewis said. “We are giving back.”

Pyland-Tipmore still works full time at Old National Bank. She’s in her 38th year of banking and isn’t ready to retire. But she enjoys the group because she graduated from high school with many of its members.

“I don’t like to sit at home,” Pyland-Tipmore said. “I’m real involved in a lot of stuff. This has kept me busy.”

Her mom, who is 75, is a fellow OWLS member. And so is Lewis’ mom, who is 82.

The group’s six administrators text and talk almost every morning.

“We’re always talking about what we can do next,” Lewis said.

They came up with posting Saturday selfies, which was a big hit. Volunteering for Borrowed Hearts was another.

“We could start posting a word of the day,” Cox said at a recent OWLS meeting.

That brought applause from Lewis and Pyland-Tipmore - and generated more ideas.

“So glad to be a member of this group” one member wrote after a recent bunco game. “I really enjoyed being with all of you tonight.”

This summer, Lewis hopes the entire OWLS group gets together for a picnic.

Until then, members continue to post ideas on the group’s Facebook page about ways they can fellowship. They seek advice, plan play dates for grandchildren, and promote blood drives and other good causes.

Any local woman who is 50 and older is invited. On Facebook, just search Owensboro Women Over 50 Friendship Group and ask to join.

Since starting the social media group, Lewis’ feelings of loneliness have faded away. Thoughts of moving are gone.

She credits OWLS.

“It doesn’t mean we’ll never move to Florida, but, right now, I’m content,” Lewis said.

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