Bluffton Packet

Social calendar: Singles group aims to get members out and about

In a community where being single isn't just on the tennis court and living alone usually amounts to another quiet weekend in front of the TV, there's a club that is reaching out.

It's called Hilton Head Island Singles, which has been around long before Internet dating sites sprouted onto the scene, and one with a different focus, said Ken Galbraith, past president.

"We're a social club. We're not a dating service. The purpose of the club is not to find matches for people, but rather provide social opportunities."

And socializing they do.

Activities are planned 10 to 12 times a month, be it at its regular Tuesday night restaurant gathering, or at a Saturday barbecue at a member's home. Once a month, members break out their fancy clothes and dine at a more expensive restaurant.

A Kentucky Derby party (complete with mint juleps), a pig roast and golf were among other recent outings. A pool party is in the works for the summer.

"We've been trying to aim at different activities and not just going out to eat," said Debbie Schneider, club president and Galbraith's partner of about three years. "We seem to like going to people's homes. It gives us a chance to mingle and sit around and chat more easily."

A night out at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina to see "Smokey Joe's Cafè" also is planned.

"If people have a choice of sitting home alone or going to the theater, we want to give them the choice of going to the theater," said Galbraith, who is a retired psychologist and school administrator from New York state.

The club was organized about 20 years ago and has roughly 85 members from Hilton Head and Bluffton, as well as a handful from Beaufort and Savannah. Seasonal residents also are welcome. Members cannot be married and must pay a $25 annual fee. Ages range from those in their 50s to 80s, with a female-male ratio at about 70 percent to 30 percent. It's a number Schneider is working at leveling off.

"Actually, for our age group, it's really not bad" she said. "I always say, 'I'm out soliciting.' Truthfully, we really try hard to do activities that would attract more men. Golf, kayaking, going to an (NFL) football game in Jacksonville."

Schneider found her way to the club when an ad in the newspaper got her attention. As a widow from Sun City Hilton Head, she said it was time to get on with her life.

"My husband and I had 32 years together," said Schneider, who has since moved to Hilton Head. "I really was not looking for a boyfriend. I needed women friends. That's what I was looking for, someone to go out to dinner with."

Within a brief period, Schneider said she had a new circle or friends who have grown to feel like a family. She and Galbraith met at a club function at Montana's in Bluffton, hitting it off from the start.

The two are among the few couples active in the club, which can be chalked up to the right chemistry. But as Galbraith reiterated, the club is not a dating service.

"And if you see signs along the highway that say 'Senior Singles,' that's not us. What we're going to promise is every month, you'll have about 12 things to do."