When Maureen Anderson and her husband Hal moved from the Bay Area to Cameron Park 27 years ago, they didn’t know a soul in the tiny foothills community of El Dorado County, except for a couple who lived in Shingle Springs and had told them of the wonderful area.
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When Hal died a few years ago, Maureen, now 81, found that she had a sort of “second family” to help her through the tough times: The Cameron Park Newcomers Club.
The club, which will celebrate its 35th anniversary on Wednesday, Jan. 8, proved not only to be a place where Maureen could meet other women (and a few intrepid husbands) but also provided camaraderie and a special closeness that was unexpected.
“We made so many wonderful friends over the years through the club and when Hal passed away, the only immediate family I had was a son in El Dorado Hills and a daughter in San Diego,” Maureen recalled. “The ladies in the club not only came over to bring food but one woman surprised me when she asked when was the last time I had changed the sheets on my bed. She took care of the bedding at a time when I just didn’t have the energy to do it.
“Who thinks of something like that?” she reflected, her voice still tinged with gratitude.
The club was started 35 years ago when two ladies over coffee talked about how they wished to meet other people in the area with whom to share interests. One of those two ladies, Charlotte Leipold, is still an active member of the club.
“We (with husband Carl) had been in the military when we moved up here to Cameron Park, and I was used to having something to do,” said Charlotte, 84. “That’s when I got together with Micqui Miller and Arleen Hamilton and we put a notice in a real estate flier, suggesting that we begin a Newcomers Club similar to what Placerville had at the time.
“We thought maybe 15 to 20 women would show up, and when 69 women and some husbands arrived, we were scrambling to find enough china and coffee cups to serve everyone,” said Charlotte.
By the second meeting, Charlotte said the group drew up bylaws and the Cameron Park Newcomers Club has never looked back.
The catchword for the club, both Maureen and Charlotte agree, is diversity. Cameron Park Newcomers Club now has 108 members from various walks of life whose paths converged into a gathering of folks whose life experiences accent one another.
Some are new to the area looking for friendships, some have lived in the county for a while and are seeking new activities but all have a common goal: fun and friendship, with events and activities based on the eclectic and entertaining interests of members.
Card games are a big hit among club members, who meet at various homes and locations, and luncheon and dinner venues are a definite highlight.
Card players shuffle from one game to another, with pinochle, poker and Rummykube challenging skills.
Day trips, cruises, picnics, a book club, bunco … the list likely will offer something to intrigue and delight all.
Something for everyone
Cameron Park Newcomers Club offers activities for singles and couples, so no one need be left sitting at home wondering what to do.
“You continually meet new friends,” said Charlotte, whose spritely conversation belies her octogenarian status. “The club keeps you young,” she laughed. “You can’t just hole up in your house once you join, because someone will always call and you’ll find yourself interested in getting out and getting involved, whether it’s going to a local chocolate-tasting — or going to Mexico.”
Club members often book such trips, she said, and a journey to Costa Rica currently is in the offing.
The Newcomers Club also sports a philanthropic bent, supporting needy families during the holidays in particular and contributing to annual scholarships for local youth.
The club emphasizes that “friends are just a phone call away,” and new members find themselves becoming active quickly, as several committees are happy to welcome new talent.
Club dues are $25 a year, with additional fees for specific activities, such as lunch and dinner costs.
Members get together each month and a board of directors makes sure the club keeps on the right track … a tried and true process for three and a half decades.
To celebrate the 35th birthday of the Cameron Park Newcomers Club, a party will be thrown Wednesday, Jan. 8, at the Cameron Park Country Club.
“Come see us,” said Maureen. “We love to make new friends.”
Call 530-677-3976 or 530-677-4933 for more information.