Hashtag Ladies Life Over 40 is a Facebook group created by Kelly Lapricido Stutts that connects Central Florida women over 40-years-old during a year so many were left feeling isolated.
“I know what it’s like feeling alone with an invisible disease as I have multiple sclerosis and it’s almost like an invisible disease came upon all of us this past year,” says Lapricido Stutts. “I didn’t want anyone to feel the loneliness I’ve felt, so I created this space for women to connect and support one another.”
Lapricido Stutts created the group in September 2020 after Tina Guss moved into her neighborhood to find there was no way to meet people during a pandemic. What started as a few women connecting online quickly turned into safe, face-to-face gatherings at local businesses that were struggling during the pandemic. Today, the group has over 800 members and they affectionally call themselves hashtaggers.
Hashtaggers frequently post spontaneous get togethers on the group’s Facebook page, but there are scheduled events such as line dancing, painting classes, walks, hikes and members Monique Belzung and Sharon Richard host a monthly Bunco game at their home.
“I didn’t know Kelly before she created the group, and now she’s one of those real, true friends who you can count on and call anytime for anything, like many in this group,” says Belzung. “I love hosting Bunco and meeting other woman. If you’re a women of hashtag, you’re our sister and we want you to come enjoy life with us!”
Members get together for social events, but they also look to inspire, encourage and give back.
“It’s great to see people lift each other up,” says Gass. “I know I felt alone moving to the area during a pandemic, and I am truly blessed to have found the hashtag ladies, because they’ve shown me there’s a whole world out there. It’s all uplifting, supportive and really a sister tribe and fast track to meaningful friendships.”
Now that the hashtaggers have gained momentum, Lapricido Stutts’s vision is to give back to the community. After she came across an 18-year-old woman who was homeless, went through a trauma and became hospitalized, she was determined to find ways to support homeless youth.
“This was something that weighed heavy on my heart and I feel compelled to be part of the solution, and I know with the incredible sisterhood we have here, we can make a difference by donating to groups that serve homeless youth like this one young woman who touched my heart,” says Lapricido Stutts.
To join the group and find ways to get involved with your community, visit Hashtag Ladies Life Over 40 – Central Florida on Facebook.