Gerry Gallicchio, 72, founded Singles Reaching Singles in Christ 29 years ago after finding herself suddenly divorced with two children to raise.
Now she helps other Christian singles, many with children, to prepare themselves for marriage through education.
Her organization, which is interdenominational, is affiliated with churches locally and around the state. It encourages singles to take their time and become whole before starting new relationships, she said.
Last year, the organization helped three couples into marriages.
Gallicchio doesn't make a living from the nonprofit singles group. It's her ministry and her calling, she said. She runs an adult day-care facility in her home. The home is known as a lighthouse among the single adults who call her "Momma G."
Being divorced and a single mother carried a stigma 30 years ago, Gallicchio recalls. "In the church world, if you were divorced in those days, you were a loose woman," she said.
But despite today's more relaxed attitude, "it's 10 times worse today," she said. "If I was to marry today, I would ask for credit card reports and mental health reports."
Experience with predatory types who target vulnerable single mothers has given Gallicchio her share of horror stories.
"Mister Great can turn out to be Mister Fickle, Mister Disaster," she said. "There's nutty women out there as well."
As a result, Gallicchio finds herself being very protective.
The group meets every Sunday for lunch at different area restaurants. About 25 singles attend. There is an annual gathering of up to 300 singles from around the country at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg. Seminar topics include personal relationships, finances, missions, single parenting, healing and surviving separation.
The group offers encouragement and support, Gallicchio said. It's a place where people can feel safe to meet others.
There are no dues for belonging. The singles group pays for itself by trusting in God, she said, and God has been good.
"There are so many people who are con artists in this business," she said. "I want the Lord to do the matching."
Gallicchio attends Fellowship of Believers, an interdenominational church in Sarasota. She runs the singles organization with an assistant, John Whitmire.
Singles Reaching Singles in Christ meets today at 1 p.m. at Bob Evans Restaurant in Bradenton, 4115 14th St. W.
For more information on the Christian singles group, visit www.singlesreachingsingles.com or call 925-0987.