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October 19, 1984 - Image 49

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-10-19

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Friday, October 19, 1984


Willia m P ugliano


Marsha Alfafara

Support Group, discovered that she
was not alone in being a "mature
A native Detroiter who works for
a local advertising firm, Kirman said
she experienced a lot of personal
_ growth by coming to the SPACE pro-
/gram. They make you feel comforta-
ble. What I've learned is it's okay to
mourn. You're with people in your own
situation. You don't feel out of place."
The group meets once a month,
except during the summer when it
meets once for a picnic. At the monthly
meetings, usually a lecture held on a
Sunday afternoon, participants have
an opportunity to build up their social
network. Following the meetings,
many go out to dinner in groups.
According to Freedman, the group
-is intended more for persons who are
nterested in lectures and workshops,
those who don't need the support
Kirman has taken an active role
in the group. "I help them in whatever
—capacity I can." Kirman has helped set
rup meetings and has worked on
SPACE symposiums. "I'm interested
in intellectually stimulating ac-
tivitity. Every time I go there I learn
Kirman said SPACE helped her
Cope with her singlehood. The mother
of two married daughters and three
grandchildren, Kirman found the pro-


Eileen Kirman

Four new SPACE
programs expand on the
success of existing
support network for
persons in transition.

gram helpful because she found others
in a similar situation.
"They're single, they're all out
there looking to start again and they
all need companionship and friend-
ship. They're lonely and that's why I
think they're, very supportive of each
other. We have a lot in common."
She said that there is another rea-
son the group succeeds. By discussing
among ourselves, you come up with a
lot of answers."
Kirman was enthusiastic about
SPACE and particularly about the
Mature People Alone program. She
called it her first step to adjusting to
single life, and found it both non-
threatening and educational.
She is so enthusiastic, that she
was considering becoming a
facilitator, but had not yet made a de-
cision. "I've come a long way and I'd
like to help someone do what I've
done." What she's done is learn to "feel
and think positively." She says the
program has given her confidence.
"It's the first time in my. life I've ever
been on my own."
She has _helped herself, too, in

making the adjustment by taking
classes, something she didn't do prev-
iously, and she learned to square
dance and ride a bicycle.
Would she recommend the pro-
gram to others? Absolutely.
"If you don't know where to get
started, SPACE starts you. You're
kind of in a non-threatening area. You
get comfortable because they're all
there for the same reason."
Pauline Katan found a comforta-
ble spot in SPACE as she faced an un-
sympathetic, uncompassionate world
when she chose not to have custody of
her nine-year-old son when she be-
came divorced.
"SPACE has , been a fantastic
lifeline for me. It saved my life."
Katan, who participated in and
helped serve as a facilitator for the
Mothers Without Custody group, said
her decision to give up custody was not
easy. She made the decision for eco-
nomic reasons, and becasue "I felt I
loved my kid too much to put him
through a custody battle."
Although she says she feels "very
comfortable with my decision," she

found that except for her family,
everyone else was negative. "A lot of
people totally abandoned me and
didn't allow me to explain.
"A woman without custody is
stigmatized by society. She feels ugly
and bad. Most women are filled with
guilt. No woman gets sympathy, corn-
She said having to give up custody
is a painful situation. First, there is
grief. "You experience the death of a
relationship, a role. You are not a
mother anymore." Secondly, the
woman has to redefine her identity.
She was previously So-and So's
Mother. Now, who is she? As a mother,
the woman has to redefine her role be-
cause she doesn't have the same type of
relationship with her child. Personal
guilt adds to the existing pain and the
lack of support from society makes the
woman feel like a criminal.
"I wish society would have com-
passion for what women go through,"
Katan said. "The transition is a
nightmare, horrible."
What the Mothers Without Cus-
tody group does is provide a place
where these women can find compas-
sion when the world has isolated them.
Katan said the group helped her be-
cause "it's difficult to meet women who
share the same feelings."
Besides providing an emotional

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