By MELISSA HAYDEN, Associated Press Orlando — A group of about 40 people in their late 30s and early 40s are preparing for a weekend in Orlando to get together for a weekly meetup.
The group, made up mostly of older adults, includes people from both the South and the Midwest who have attended church in Orlando for years.
The idea is to get to know each other as they discuss their life choices, and to see each other’s work habits and aspirations.
The meetup is planned for a weeklong trip to Orlando, but organizers say it could last more than a month.
The goal is to meet as many people as possible during the weekend, the group said in a news release.
“I think there are a lot of people who are looking for a community that is not only fun but that’s welcoming and kind and accepting,” said Matt McHenry, who is attending the meetup with his wife, Laura.
“There’s a lot going on that hasn’t really been talked about,” he said.
McHenry said his wife and his wife’s boyfriend are planning a trip to visit their parents in Indiana.
“We’re not looking to just be friends, but we’re going to be very social, have a great time and just share a meal and have some fun,” he told the AP.
“It’s not going to have the social aspect, but it will be about being open and having a good time and sharing,” McHenry said.
They have some friends in Indianapolis, too.
“My husband and I are going to Indianapolis to go visit a friend’s parents, and we are going on the same trip,” said Michelle McHenry.
“The fact that we have a family together, it’s something that’s really comforting,” she said.
“It’s a big step toward having the family we want.”
The group is also hoping to meet some people who live in Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas and other parts of the country.
“They’re all kind of like ‘I don’t know if we can make it in Florida because of the humidity and I don’t think we can even get out of here,'” McHenry told the Associated Press.
“So I think the group of people we’re talking to is going to get a chance to meet and be with a lot more people.”
They have also started an online petition that has already received more than 4,000 signatures, and will soon reach its goal of reaching 30,000.
McGovern said it’s an opportunity for older adults to connect with other older adults who are also struggling with loneliness.
“A lot of us have been feeling lonely,” he explained.
“And it’s been really challenging for us to get through our days without feeling alone and not having a lot to do with others around us.”
The online petition, titled “You are not alone: Helping older adults overcome loneliness and help others feel like they are,” is set to go live Saturday at the website www.askoldpeople.com.
It will also be distributed by the group.
“You can get on Facebook or your smartphone and do the Facebook app,” McGovern said.
The Orlando group plans to share a list of events and events planned in Orlando, including a meeting at a park near the meetups.