Ron Hall's son, Mitchell, was nine months old when his mother exited their lives and then-26-year-old Hall shouldered the full responsibility of parenting by himself.
He was no good at first, he admitted decades later on Tuesday. He didn't know how to change a diaper, and his friends -- mostly young men whose lives did not include room for babies -- had neither the skills nor the inclination to be of much help.
"It was very hard … I had no friends; I had no support," Hall said. "So I decided to make a group, and 21 years later, here we are."
'Here' is Single Parents, an online group that allows its more than 100,000 members to share advice and provide support to one another as they work to raise children without a partner -- but, thanks to the internet, not alone.
Hall started Since Parents as a mailing list on the now-defunct eGroups in 1998, then moved it to Yahoo and finally to Facebook, where it exists now. It's been an invaluable resource to Lawrenceburg, Indiana resident Jessica Young, she said.
Like Hall, she was once a single parent living in an apartment with limited knowledge and access to resources that could have helped her.
Her newborn daughter, Eva, went through extensive medical testing to identify potential physical health issues. Young later learned Eva had ADHD and autism, but no other health problem.
Single Parents includes special sub-groups for those who, like Young, are raising children with cognitive disabilities. She and fellow members offer each other everything from advice to help around the holidays.
"We can talk about whatever's going on, and then the group will help us out," she said. "We help out single parents that don't really have enough money to get presents; we try to help as much as possible if we can."
Hall said all these conversations, gestures and acts of kindness add up to an expression of the group's central message to single parents:
"They're not alone. We get it. We walk the walk. We're here for you."