For more information about Newcomers Club or Encore Club, go to www.fwnewcomers.com or write to: Newcomers Club, Box 8181, Fort Wayne, IN 46898.
When Amy Crowley's family moved to Fort Wayne from Texas in 2009, due to her husband's job transfer, she was slightly apprehensive at the thought of moving to a new community.
The Crowleys, including a son and daughter, had lived in the same house in Texas for 23 years and friendships were firmly established.
“I usually can fit in and make friends, but I didn't know how to do that in Fort Wayne,” she said.
When a friend who had also transferred from Texas told Crowley about the Newcomers Club in Fort Wayne, she decided to visit one of the group's monthly coffee meetings. As an incentive to encourage first-time visitors, club members pay for their coffee drinks. An RSVP is required to attend.
“The club members who attended were friendly,” said Crowley. “They explained all of the activities. It sounded fun, and I joined the same day.”
Crowley participated with Newcomers Club members in activities, such as playing cards, going to movies, dining in local restaurants, taking day trips to outlying areas around Fort Wayne, and family activities.
“It was an instant way to make friends,” she said.
Today, Crowley is president of the Newcomers Club, which she said has 80 registered members.
“We have single women, those who work and ones who stay at home,” she said. “They range in age from their 20s through 80s. Because of the age range, we plan a variety of activities from play dates to couple outings and picnics for women with teens. The group also conducts community-service projects.”
Kim Brown joined Newcomers Club in 2005 after her husband's job transferred him to Fort Wayne from Toledo, Ohio.
“Our two teens were long past the point of my needing to be involved in their schools,” she said.
Unsure how to meet people in the new city, Brown followed up on advice from a neighbor who had moved to Fort Wayne a few months earlier.
“She had heard about this club called Newcomers that was created for local women to meet and get to know each other,” said Brown.
After her initial meeting with the group, Brown, like Crowley, immediately got connected. “I enjoyed being in Newcomers from the beginning,” she said. “My current friends today are still in the club.”
According to Brown, the purpose of Newcomers Club since its origins in 1937 has been to enable women in Fort Wayne area to establish friendships with other women.
“From the beginning, our members have sought to share their knowledge of Fort Wayne and life's experiences with each other, especially women who have just moved to Fort Wayne,” she said. “We all want to know about places with good medical care, great restaurants, and churches and schools. Those of us in the Newcomers Club make recommendations based on our experiences, which may help others.”
In 2011, Brown became president of the Encore Club, an extension of Newcomers Club.
“The Encore club was begun in 1991 because of a rule with the Newcomers Club that says a woman can only be a member of that club for five years,” said Brown. “We figure, after five years, she will have made friends. But members wanted to stay in contact with each other, so we created Encore to enable them to do so.”
She added that any woman may join Encore.
“We have 180 members, many of whom were not member of Newcomers Club first. However, if a woman is new to the area, we recommend she join Newcomers Club first to gain its benefits.”
The annual membership fee for Newcomers Club is $25. The annual membership fee for Encore Club members is $15.
Each group has a monthly newsletter and board of directors.
“When a woman joins either club, she will indicate on the membership form her hobbies and interests,” said Brown. “She may find a smaller cluster within the larger group she would like to join, such as a scrapbooking or book club.”
Brown added that women do not have to be new to Fort Wayne to be a member of either club. “Some members grew up in Fort Wayne and moved back here to retire,” she said.
Both groups focus on organizing free or moderately-priced events. “Most of us are on a budget, so we look for events we can afford,” she said.
“I encourage every woman who is new to Fort Wayne to consider becoming a member of our clubs,” said Crowley. “It is a great way to get involved and meet people. We all know it is horrible to feel lonely. We want to eliminate that.”