Single Parent Honored
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Parents Without Partners, a single parents group with more than 200,000 members, wound up its annual convention last weekend by naming a California mother of five its single parent of the year.
This year’s winner, Sandra Fisch, 50, of Covina, Calif., was divorced in 1981 after 23 years of marriage. The experience was devastating.
″To me, you get married once and it’s forever and ever. When you get a divorce, all your hopes and dreams are destroyed,″ said Mrs. Fisch, a traditional Roman Catholic.
She started attending Parents Without Partners meetings as soon as her ex- husband moved out, but didn’t say a word for three months. ″I would sit in the back and cry,″ she said. ″I just wanted to be a housewife and stay home with the kids. I loved it.″
Mrs. Fisch decided that to help herself, she would have to help others. She volunteered to run the group’s barbeques, children’s events, hospitality committees and friendship circles for new members. At the same time she was a volunteer at her church and at her children’s athletic games, keeping score, mending uniforms and tending the snack bar.
″This made me a happier person, and more able to cope with everyday problems,″ she said. ″In turn, this was reflected in my children’s behavior and attitudes.″
The divorce has forced Mrs. Fisch to do things she says she never thought she’d do - like taking out a car loan, buying a home and driving alone from Los Angeles to Seattle. When she returns to California, she’ll be finishing college and starting her first paying job - as a hospital diet technician - since a brief stint as an airline stewardess before getting married.
″I know a lot of people when they’re single they just stay home,″ said Mrs. Fisch, a perky, sunburnt woman with short blonde hair. ″Parents Without Partners has been really good for me. It really helped me ... to be around people.″
The organization has 1,000 chapters in the United States and Canada for parents who are divorced, separated, widowed or never-married. The membership is 65 percent female.
The group is involved in a national drive to enforce child support orders and plans to step up efforts to enforce non-custodial parents’ visiting rights, said spokesman Jeff Jacobs. Local chapters have programs on substance abuse, missing children, abused children and other issues, he said.
″We’re trying to dispel the myth that PWP is a dating organization. It’s really much more than that,″ Jacobs said. ″We try to serve as a great source of information for single parents.″
The group publishes a magazine, Single Parent, and a newsletter. It also offers information, scholarships and member benefits such as health and life insurance.
In addition to its Single Parent of the Year award, Parents Without Partners has a Distinguished Service to Children Award that went this year to the National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse.