Friendship and keeping active are goals the Guelph Newcomers Club looks to achieve for new and current members of its women-only group.
Started in 1990, this not-for-profit social club is for women who have moved to Guelph, and more recently, for those who are going through a significant change in their lives, such as losing a spouse or entering retirement.
For $30 a year, members can sign up for numerous activities, including potlucks, golfing, card games, movie nights, book clubs and more.
“It’s not just for women who are brand new to the city anymore, it’s for any women in their life who need to go out and make new friends," said Maureen Pluthero, social media coordinator for the Guelph Newcomers Club.
Pluthero joined the club back in 2017 after she moved to the area. She said she was involved with a similar club in Whitby.
For Pluthero, staying active and meeting new people is why she decided to join the club.
“I’ve found with retirement, you can be as busy or as un-busy as you want to be, so it just gives you activities and options for how active you want to be," she said.
As part of the executive team, Pluthero said the club is trying to expand its services to younger women, and is attempting to do so through adding a website and a Facebook group. While membership has fluctuated below and over 100 in the past, the current number of members for the club is 93.
“It’s not bad, but given how many women live in Guelph, we’re trying to appeal to a lot more women than we have," said Pluthero, who adds the average member age is 70.
One benefit of joining the club is that its planned activities can fit into most members schedules. All activities run by the club happen at different times of day and during different months of the year.
"When I joined the club, there were two book clubs, now there are six, because we have so many women interested in reading books," she said.
“They (members) find it very nice that there's such a wide range of activities, not everything has to be a physical activity or eating out, people can get together for a game of cards or knitting."
Besides the different monthly events, members can also join in annual events, including a summer picnic in August, a teddy bear fundraising event in November, a holiday luncheon, spring fling and an end of the year social. Pluthero adds members of the club can also pitch their own ideas for activities.
“That’s the nice thing too, if anyone has an interest and wants to start a group, they’re more than welcomed too,” said Pluthero. “We’re only limited by our ideas, really.”
While the club focuses on building relationships between members, the women involved in the Guelph Newcomers Club can also bring their partners or a friend to certain activities, like Table Talk, which they can check out different restaurants within the city.
“A lot of the men have now started their own little breakfast group and they get together and go out for breakfast,” Pluthero said about some member's partners.
Due to the pandemic, the club has switched some events to Zoom meetings, but Pluthero mentions these have helped some members remain more social.
“It’s not quite the same as in person, but at least you still have contact and it’s been really essential during COVID, because there’s a lot of us who are single and live on our own.” said Pluthero.
Thinking about applying for a membership? Interested residents can try a couple club activities before making a full commitment.
“They don’t have to join and find out, ‘Oh, nothing really works for me,’" said Pluthero, "they can try two activities before they join.”
To learn more about the Guelph Newcomers Club, go to guelphnewcomersclub.ca. Those who are interested in applying can email email@example.com.