Originally created 09/09/04

Newcomers club helps residents learn about area



When Renata Coker left the Czech Republic and moved to Augusta in February, she was grateful to find the Augusta Area Newcomers Club.

"I don't have anybody else here," said Ms. Coker, now the publicity director for the club, which has been welcoming new residents to Augusta and the surrounding cities for the past 25 years. "This is my family right now."

Since joining, Ms. Coker has participated in gardening groups, lunches, movie nights and other club activities that involved about 160 members last year.

The club, which has members from England, South Africa, Chile, Eastern Europe and the United States, is open to people who have been living in the area three years or less or have had a major lifestyle change, such as divorce or retirement, said Angela McGowan, the club president.

Annual dues are $15. The first luncheon of the season will be at Carrabba's Italian Grill, 2832 Washington Road, at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 16; reservations are required. For reservations, call 650-8044. For more information about the club, call 650-1400.

Many of the members are corporate or military people who move around frequently and have been in newcomers clubs in other areas.

"If you're new to the area, we can certainly help you adjust," said Mrs. McGowan, who joined when she moved from St. Louis three years ago.

Aside from helping newcomers find their way around, the club's activities include a book club, bingo, a lunch bunch, art tours, crafts, sewing, girls' night out, bowling, game nights, canal boat rides, trips and socials for couples. They have an auction twice a year for various local charities, and monthly coffees and luncheons from September to May.

"We always have guest speakers and fashion shows and things at the luncheons," Ms. McGowan said. "Our programs are geared toward things going on in the area."

Despite being made up of women, Ms. McGowan, the club welcomes men.

Ms. Coker said the club has been fun and has helped her figure things out.

"Basic things, like finding a dentist or where to get a good lunch," she said. "We have a calendar, and there is something happening every day. My first friends (here) are all from Newcomers."

WHAT'S NEXT

The Augusta Area Newcomers Club will hold the season's first luncheon at Carrabba's Italian Grill, 2832 Washington Road, at 10 a.m. Sept. 16. For reservations, call 650-8044.