Welcome! That's the message of the Pleasanton Newcomers Club, and it's not just for people who are new in town. About 20 years ago, the club, originally designed for folks who had recently found their way to our lovely burg, changed its rules to let members continue past the previously mandated three years, plus began to welcome everyone.
The club is still great for people who've just moved here, as well as for old-timers who are looking to make new friends -- and have fun.
"I would say it's probably about a quarter of the members who are new to town," said Bettie Waggener, who just finished serving as president for three years. "We have a couple new ones that just joined -- they actually met each other at the dog park and one of them had been in a newcomers club before."
They thought of changing the name, Bettie said, but decided that it sounded welcoming, whether people were new to Pleasanton or just new to the club.
Bettie joined about seven years ago. She wasn't new to Pleasanton, but her life situation had changed. She had grown kids and grandkids, then was widowed, and retired after 30 years as an administrator at Pine Valley Middle School in San Ramon. She wanted to meet people and explore new activities so she checked out one of the club's monthly coffees.
"I was so surprised -- every single person there came up and talked to me," Bettie recalled. "I felt so welcome. It was so comfortable."
She became club secretary for a term of two years and then president, serving three years instead of the usual two when COVID put everything on hold. In-person activities were suspended during the shelter-at-home months although the board continued to meet outdoors, in Bettie's backyard.
"We pretty much did nothing that year," she said. "We had a lot of conversations, and various members wanted us to open."
But Bettie thought it was important to wait for the state's reopening date of June 15. Now all the activities are going again, except the bunco group, which never meets in the summer because that's when its players travel. The first coffee of the reopening was held July 7 outdoors at a home, and Bettie said five new members have joined within the last month.
Bettie raved about how much the club has to offer, including a monthly lunch bunch, bocce, book club, bunco, ladies' groups, day trips, special outings, hiking and walking groups, a dinner group, stitch and chat, a wine group, bridge -- and more! Whew. Dues are $30 a year.
"Everyone doesn't go to everything, but we have something for everyone," Bettie said. "It's gotten much more social and more fun."
Generally the more than 100 members are retired although the ages are between 50 and some in their 80s, Bettie said. Mostly women attend the daytime activities, but a recent tour of the Amazon plant in Tracy drew a lot of men, who also like to play bocce and golf, she said.
The new president is Leitha Sangermano, and she has lived here forever and is even an Amador Valley High graduate.
"There are a variety of nationalities and beliefs," Bettie added. "It's a fun, nonjudgmental group."
For instance, she noted, anyone can feel free to wear a mask or not as they resume activities, and no one will care or judge.
Pleasanton Newcomers Club is in the process of creating a new flier to be printed and distributed at the library.
"We absolutely always welcome new members because we like new ideas," Bettie said. "The board meeting once a month is open to any member who wants to come. Anyone with a suggestion can bring it to the board. If you have a new idea, we want to try it."
Potential new members can go to two functions before joining, which gives them a chance to see what it is all about, and Bettie said most choose to attend one of the club's monthly coffees, which are held in homes.
But first, check out the photos on the club's website, www.pleasantonnewcomers.com, to see the friendly faces and to learn more.
"The welcoming-ness of the group makes it inviting," Bettie said.
Editor's note: Dolores Fox Ciardelli is Tri-Valley Life editor for the Pleasanton Weekly. Her column, "Valley Views," appears on the second and fourth Fridays of each month.