When Rebecca Lammersen went through her divorce seven-plus years ago, she felt lost and alone.
“I was like Christopher Columbus just constantly navigating these uncharted waters,” said the mother of two.
Now Lammersen is teaming up with Linda Feldman of the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Phoenix (BJE) to start Second ACT, a group that hopes to support single-parent families via social gatherings and community service projects. Second ACT is an expansion of the BJE’s ACT (Action, Connect, Think) social action program.
Feldman, family education director for the BJE, said Second ACT grew out of her experience running other programs for the organization.
“Two of the programs that I have run for many years are Jewish Baby University, which started in 1997, and as a prequel to that program I started Jewish Marriage University,” Feldman said. “From that population, I know of a certain number of families that have gotten divorced.”
Hearing about these stories, Feldman wanted to find a way to help. She was thinking about how to do that when she ran into Lammersen one day.
The pair discussed No Shabbos Candle Stands Alone, a BJE program Feldman ran that brought together divorced and single-parent families for a Shabbat dinner or havdalah services. They liked the idea of doing something similar. But since Feldman was already so busy, Lammersen stepped up to turn the proposed program into a reality.
“We wanted to support single-parent families,” Feldman said. “We wanted to provide them with opportunities to meet one another and to have their children get to be with other families that look like their families.”
Feldman believes the program will provide participants with a number of benefits and opportunities.
“Part of it is for bonding and friendship, and the other part is to provide some tikkun olam or community service projects that families can do together,” Feldman said.
The group will meet on the second and fourth Sundays of each month. The first meeting will consist of social activities, with the second focusing on community service projects.
Lammersen explained some of the projects currently being considered for the group, including volunteering at food banks and having the children
create paintings that they will then gift to residents of assisted-living homes.
“We want to do things that will cultivate this sense of service,” Lammersen said. “Whenever you give, the soul is filled. It makes you feel better and helps with the grief.”
The group’s first event will be a game day and picnic on Feb. 25 at the BJE’s location on the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus in Scottsdale. Participants are encouraged to bring a favorite lawn or board game, plus a dairy or vegetarian picnic dinner. The BJE will provide ice cream sundaes and root beer floats.
“I want to make sure people know that everybody who’s a single parent is invited. That means someone who is never married or maybe there’s somebody who’s widowed; we want to include everyone,” Lammersen said.
“Even if they don’t have the kids that day, they should still come and meet everyone and learn more about the program.” JN
To RSVP for the Feb. 25 event, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 480-634-8050. Tickets are $5 per family.