"Solos" started out as a social group for single parishioners of Clifton Park, Round Lake and Crescent parishes - but there were clear differences between age groups.

"The younger people were more interested in the dating game," explained Dolores Martin, the group's founder and a parishioner of St. Edward's Church in Clifton Park.

Solos evolved into a group just for seniors, and now fills a social gap for widows, who make up the majority of its roughly 30-person membership.

The purpose, Ms. Martin said, is "to promote balance in their lives and to keep them active and young in mind and spirit. It adds to the quality of life."

Four years after its inception, Solos now offers monthly luncheons, day trips and volunteer opportunities like collecting food for charities. Members attend movies and plays together and recently went on a cruise to Alaska.

"I tell everybody we're a fun group," said Kathleen Stillwell, the current leader, who learned about the group from a local publication. "I just made some wonderful friends and I get to do some really nice things."

Solos serves as an "outlet" for Ms. Stillwell, who is a widow. "It's tough when you were a couple and now there's one of you," she told The Evangelist.

Ms. Martin noted that singles don't get invited to dinner parties.

Before Solos, "there was nothing in the area" for the population, she said.

Rev. Patrick Butler, pastor of St. Edward's, encouraged her to start a group.

"I had no idea where this was going," Ms. Martin admitted. In the beginning, up to 70 people - some, as young as 20 - met at St. Edward's. They expressed a variety of interests too broad for one group to accommodate, so she suggested the younger crowd start a "Solos 2," which is still a possibility.

After a year or so, the group moved from church meetings to restaurant meetings and expanded its menu of outings. Ms. Martin hopes Solos provides "a safe atmosphere for people to go out together."

The Solos page of St. Edward's website has prompted dozens of people from around the country to call Ms. Martin and ask about the Albany Diocese. "Frankly, I felt like a counselor for a while," she said.

Ms. Martin recently lost her husband and son. Before her husband's death, he "had asked me to do things I had never done before," so she joined parish choirs and launched a monthly column in the bulletin in addition to starting Solos.

"You never know," she said, "when it's going to hit a person - when they might need a group like this."