“There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t yet met.”
I thought of this quote by poet William Butler Yeats while I was at the Concord Country Club last week, at the invitation of the Newcomers/Neighbors of the Newtown Square area. I had planned to meet with them to do a little story on their 56-year-old organization when member Michele Dougher graciously said, “Why don’t you come to our annual fashion show? You’ll get a much better idea of who we are and what we do and get to meet some of our members.”
I can truthfully say that I walked into the facility not knowing a single soul and walked out with many new friends. What a terrific bunch of special ladies!
Under the leadership of President Jeanne Schoepe, of Broomall, the club currently has about 70 members from all over Delaware County and the surrounding area. When I quickly scanned their member directory, even though the club title says “of the Newtown Square area,” the club includes residents from Media, Garnet Valley, Villanova, West Chester, Glen Mills, Bryn Mawr, Broomall and other communities. In other words, the club is so attractive that women travel from all over the area to attend its activities.
Newcomers/Neighbors is a social club for adults of all ages, dedicated to making the transition to this area easier by providing the opportunity to meet new friends and participate in activities with others who have similar interests.
Chris Crowley, an active member of Newcomers/Neighbors who publishes the club’s newsletter and was a model in this year’s fashion show, told me, “When I moved to Media from Buffalo, N.Y. 17 years ago, I didn’t know a single soul. I read something about Newcomers meeting for lunch at a nearby restaurant. I was so new to the area, and coincidentally, it was the only restaurant that I actually knew where it was. I was a little anxious going because I didn’t know anyone, but two members met me at the door and were so friendly. They went above and beyond to make me feel welcome. Newcomers/Neighbors has kept me busy ever since and I can’t begin to tell you all the new friends I met through this club!”
Long-term and lifelong residents of the area are also members and always welcome to join. If recently retired or looking to expand friendships or activities, the club offers a wide variety of things to do. Events are planned in morning, noon and night to offer members choices.
“I really enjoy meeting so many different women and enjoying such a variety of activities,” Michele told me. “We have so much fun in this club and I always like the activities that focus on giving back to the community. We’re really big on that here.”
“I have made many lifelong friends in this club,” added Amy Blake, of Broomall, who has been a member of the club for 25 years. “I participate in the book reviews, adventurers’ trips and I golf. This is a great way to meet new friends and a variety of really nice, caring people.”
The diverse group of women is broken down into committees so members can participate in activities that they enjoy. Committees include Arts & Crafts (October’s craft was a pair of cool-looking earrings), Bridge, Community Service, Stitchery Etcetera, Dining Out, Ways and Means, Culinary Arts, Golfing and Book Reviews. There’s even a “Let’s Go To The Movies” committee for members who don’t want to go to the theater solo, but would rather catch a matinee with some friends.
Michele told me about the Adventurers, in which she is active. According to Michele, the Adventurers go on fun little excursions to local attractions and landmarks. They recently visited QVC Studio Park in West Chester for a tour and will soon take the American Treasure Tour in Oaks and visit the Lancaster Quilt Museum.
Newcomers/Neighbors has a variety of fun events planned throughout the year, including a Holiday Cookie and Gift Exchange and even outings that include the members’ significant others.
The club meets on the fourth Thursday of every month at a different restaurant each time, where members get together to socialize, hear an interesting speaker and share some laughs. Spasso’s in Media is on the slate for its upcoming holiday luncheon. Members also often take turns hosting coffees and other get-togethers at their homes. The club focuses on forming friendships and sharing good times, but it also has a serious side to it. Last year, the club selected Delaware County Domestic Abuse Project, the Delaware County Literacy Center, Dawn’s Place and Wounded Warriors as their charities to support.
Every June at the end of the club year, members vote which charities they would like their fundraised profits to benefit. The club year runs from September to June. The club members also make Easter baskets for the families at the Delaware County Domestic Abuse Project’s Safe House and will fulfill a Christmas wish list for two single moms with children at “The Village” in Rosemont this holiday season. The women have big hearts and were obviously proud of their extensive philanthropic efforts. I could tell their charitable generosity to others in the community means a great deal to them and was a priority in the club.
The annual fall fashion show is one of the club’s biggest fundraisers. About 80 ladies attended this year. In addition to Chris, other members who aptly modeled outfits included Sue Felizzi, Pam LaMonaca, Nancy Edwards and Mary Ann Andree. The clothes (which were awesome, by the way) were provided by Chico’s at Routes 252 and 30 in Paoli and brought to the show by assistant store manager Patty Morgan and sales associate Connie Louderback. Member Christine Hirtzel, of Glenmoore, beautifully wrapped over a dozen gift baskets for the raffle. Patty, Connie and Chris were all really nice and friendly. It was my pleasure to have them sit at my table.
To become a member, an application form can be downloaded from the “How to Join” tab at www.newcomersneighborsns.com. Annual membership dues are only $35, and although the club year is only 10 months long, new members are accepted at any time. Potential members can reach out to membership Chair Pam LaMonaca at 610-627-9811 with questions. If you are unsure about joining or want to get to know the club better before reaching out, you can email email@example.com, and they’ll send you their newsletter for three consecutive months.
The Newcomers/Neighbors of Newtown Square area club has come a long way since its birth in 1960. A few members told me the club used to be called “Newcomers/Greeters.” But in 2012, the name was modernized to Newcomers/Neighbors. Times have changed many things about the club, but some characteristics have remained the same such as its objective to promote friendship among new and current residents by arranging special events, programs and activities. Over the past couple of decades, it has also incorporated philanthropic events into its annual calendar which seems to have only amped up the club’s appeal.
When the fashion show ended, and I was getting ready to end such a memorable, delightful afternoon, I hugged all of my new friends goodbye.
“They lived up to their name, I thought to myself. “The club really is a welcoming group, full of fabulous women who value their friendships, care about others and know how to laugh and have fun.”
I was so happy that I had the opportunity of getting know them and learning from first-hand experience what Newcomers/Neighbors was really all about.
On the crisp autumn afternoon, I walked outside after my fond farewell and stood still while admiring the vibrant colors of the trees on the country club lawn and its adjoining properties, silently soaking in the beautiful scene. I took a deep breath.
“Life is good,” I thought with a smile.