DAVID STONE | OUR TOWN TEMPLE
Linda Atkins has been connecting singles for nearly 30 years, and now she’s starting a local group to help older Bell County residents meet for dating, friendship and just hanging out.
“I’m still trying to find out what people want in a singles group,” the 72-year-old Atkins said this week. “We’ve been meeting since July and we try to have at least three meet-ups every month.”
The group — Bell Area Singles 55+ — started with gatherings at Corky’s in Downtown Temple. The group also meets at Bo’s Barn Dancehall on the third Thursday of every month.
“People come to singles meet-ups for several reasons” Linda said. “Some are looking to meet people of the opposite sex, others are just looking for friends and fun activities. Most want to connect out of loneliness.”
“Right now, we have about 15 people attending — about a third are men, two-thirds are women. Most aren’t actually looking for love. They are looking for friendship and an activity partner. Many have lost the love of their life and many really aren’t looking for a serious relationship.”
Linda is no stranger to running singles groups. Before moving to Temple, she worked at Dell computers in Austin and lived in that area.
“The first singles group I started was at Riverbend, a megachurch in Austin,” she said. “We had about 400 singles in the group, and I ran it for about 10 years.”
Linda also started a group in Lago Vista, a Hill Country community on the northern shores of Lake Travis.
“Lago Vista is a small town, and there weren’t a lot of options for singles,” she said. “There were four or five restaurants at the time. We would meet up for dinner or drinks, and we built up to about 80 people. About 40 were regular, and a good 25 came to just about all of our events.”
Linda had planned for the Bell County club to be for folks 65 and older, but her announcements drew a great deal of interest from those just a bit younger.
“There’s a big difference between 55 and 65,” she said. “At 55, most people are still working and they have different wants and needs than those who are totally retired.”
Linda is assisted in her event planning by her sister, Carol Purser. Carol isn’t married, but she is in a relationship, and she frequently brings her boyfriend to events.
“He comes with me to Bo’s and dances with some of the single women,” she said.
In addition to meet-ups at Corky’s and Bo’s, the group also has met at Salado’s Stagecoach Inn restaurant, and there are other events in the works.
“We are planning an outing at Bubba’s 33 and Mas Fajitas, both in Killeen,” Carol said. “We’re still in the early stages and trying to find where people want to go. After the first of the year, we will start planning day trips.”
Linda and Carol are organizing a six-day singles cruise out of Galveston beginning April 2.
“It’s a Carnival trip with three ports of call — Costa Maya, Belize and Cozumel,” Linda said.
For additional information about Bell Area Singles 55+, contact Linda at atkinsfromTexas@yahoo.com.