Peggy Cluse, standing, is the founder of Boldly Walking With Jesus, a group for widows. Also shown are are, from left, Joanne Songer, Mickie Foltz and Lovie Swogger.

Peggy Cluse, standing, is the founder of Boldly Walking With Jesus, a group for widows. Also shown are are, from left, Joanne Songer, Mickie Foltz and Lovie Swogger.

Barb Toy remembers the day she walked out of her house and nearly tripped over something on her porch in early 2022.

It was a care package that included a blanket, a book of devotions and a greeting card that referenced the recent loss of her husband, Gary.

“That was really awesome to have that,” she said.

The care package included a card about Boldly Walking With Jesus, a group for widows, and she started attending their meetings. She remains a loyal member.

Peggy Cluse formed the group in 2019 after losing her husband, James. While she had friends and family members around her when her husband died, they didn’t understand “the nuances of the widow journey,” she said.

The group started small, just Cluse and Lovie Swogger, who knew each other from attending the former Six-Fourteen Church in Masury. Then Faith Faber came along.

“I came as soon as I knew about it,” Faber said.

The group now has about 15 members – from Brookfield, Masury and Vienna – who meet weekly at Brookfield United Methodist Church for a potluck supper, conversation and an activity, usually a craft. The ladies have started going to O’Brien Memorial Care Center in Masury to sing hymns for residents.

“When I lost Wade, I thought I was the only one – Why, why, why?” said Mickie Foltz. “When I came to this group, it just brings so much comfort. We talk, we express our feelings and we understand each other. We understand what everybody is going through, and that we’re not alone.”

Sure, there are tears, at times, but there also is a lot of laughter when the ladies get together, Cluse said, the expression of an emotion that, as a young widow, she wasn’t sure she would ever feel again.

“It’s hard to even be able to know we’re gonna be able to live again and breathe,” she said.

Nearly five years removed from her husband’s death, Cluse said that while the hurt does not go away Boldly Walking With Jesus shows that life can still be good.

“I wanted to show women that are new to the journey that it’s gonna be OK,” she said. “We’re gonna be OK. This group by its very nature is a healing place.”

Tammy Zolnier credited the group with making her bolder. She has gained confidence in herself, which manifested itself in her creating Creations and Alterations, a home-based business. She noted she has started once-a-month sewing and craft sessions with kids.

Some former group members left because they remarried or found their lives fulfilling in other ways. Cluse wishes them well. For herself, meeting nights with Boldly Walking With Jesus are her favorite nights of the week.

“It has been a God thing, for sure,” she said.

The group has started selling the crafts it makes – and items individual members make on their own – at craft shows and online. The goal is to raise enough money to buy a 15-passenger van, or the equivalent, so members can go on excursions together.

“We could go farther if we had wheels,” Cluse said.

The group will participate in BUMC’s Spring Craft and Vendor Show March 23.

Anyone who would like information about the group can call Cluse at 330-550-7493.

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