With the surge of home sales this year, there are a lot of fresh faces around. For our newest residents, there is no better place to connect with people than Newcomers & Neighbors of the Greater Hinsdale Area (N&N). This social group aims to connect people by creating opportunities to get together and enjoy common interests.
New members are welcome whether having moved from across the state or the other side of the world. The large number of expatriates living in Burr Ridge, Clarendon Hills, Hinsdale, and Oak Brook are especially appreciative of the club’s openhearted nature. Certainly the morning I joined the group for one of their informal drop-in coffees, there were lovely people present from the United Kingdom, India, Australia, and Singapore, as well as transplants from Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia. Each shared wonderful stories of how welcome they felt when they found the group. There was much laughter and an unmistakable sense of camaraderie.
Deborah Kloubec moved from out of state about 16 months ago. “A neighbor knocked on my door and invited me to a luncheon as a way to meet people. I went to Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant and met ladies from California, Texas, Georgia, and probably more. I felt genuinely welcome and now I’m involved in several groups,” she says.
The groups are an integral part of N&N. Ranging from Book Clubs to Bunco, Lunch Bunch to Men’s Poker Night, and even the very successful Spontaneity Group—devoted to fun outings that come together quickly—are popular with members and often serve to bridge the gaps that come from moving to a new place.
Tanya Hilton moved with her family from Potomac, Maryland, when her husband accepted a position with McDonald’s Corporation. She found not only a warm welcome but also Book Club and a Bunco group. “I had been a part of a book club for 14 years and really missed it, and I didn’t know anyone played Bunco outside of our community, but these ladies always opened their arms to me, and now these things are a part of my life here,” she says.
Yesha Shah moved here about a year ago and says that the monthly morning coffee brings her back again and again for the valuable intelligence she gains each time. “We share information and ask questions back and forth. Being from India, everyone here wants to know about other cultures.”
Co-President Peggy Knowles moved here from St. Louis eight years ago, but previously lived in Australia for four years. “I know what it’s like to move to another country. Many of us have lived overseas, either for work or for a spouse’s job, and we can relate.”
Whatever brings people into the group, it’s a low-pressure way to feel at home in the community. “Talking to someone is good for the soul,” says member Amber Gitter.
Member Rose Ross tells a compelling story of moving to Hinsdale and wanting to be a part of something. “We moved from New Jersey to Omaha, Nebraska, where were supposed to stay for two years. With three babies in diapers, I didn’t invest the time in getting to know people, and two years turned into eight. When we moved here, I made the effort,” she says.
Rose advises transplants to take the first step and get involved with something, but adds that the greatest rewards come when we challenge ourselves to commit to a larger role in an organization. “Chair a committee or be on the board,” she advises.
“People think that it’s easy to make friends as an adult, but it can take real effort. Make that effort. Step out of your comfort zone and stay connected,” she says.
Amber echoes these sentiments by saying, “We want people who want to participate.”
Members of the group love having people by their side who can relate to what they’re experiencing in their lives. Some are transitioning from running a division of a company to supporting the career of a spouse. Some are new mothers, while others are new to the wonderful world of empty nesting. All are open and supportive, just the kind of friends everyone needs.
N&N welcomes everyone interested in learning more to attend a quarterly New Member Coffee. Dates and times can be found on the club’s website, nngha.com. We also hear that the annual Holiday Party is one not to be missed!
-Michelle Crowe // Photography by Joel Lerner