Maybe you just moved here from a big bustling metropolis. Maybe you just moved from the next town over. Or maybe you’ve actually been here for years! Whatever your story, you’re welcome with open arms in the Blacksburg Newcomers Club.
Come to think of it, you don’t even have to live in Blacksburg — anywhere in the New River Valley will suffice!
“Newcomers has been a wonderful opportunity for me to meet people,” says Brenda Moses, a Newcomers Club board member who works with interest group leaders. “I feel more connected to my community, and we simply like to have fun! I very much enjoy the walking, dinner and wine tasting groups.”
Whether you’re into nature or needlework or a night out on the town, the Blacksburg Newcomers Club has you covered. The list of special interest groups is exhaustive – Mah Jongg, Book Club, Lunch Bunch, Biking Buddies … you name it! And if by some crazy chance you don’t see your hobby on the list, it is super easy to get a group started. Brenda is there to help get the ball rolling. “Although I lived in Blacksburg for a while before joining, I have made new friends through Newcomers,” she states.
While members certainly don’t have to be new to the area, they don’t even have to be new to the group! “Many members come and go, join for a year or so, take a hiatus, then rejoin later,” says Kristin Knights, president of the Blacksburg Newcomers Club. “Whatever you’ve got going on in life, our door is always open.”
Kristin moved to Blacksburg from Baltimore in 1998, and though it was a bit of a culture shock, she quickly took to the warmth and generosity the people demonstrated. While juggling a new baby and grocery-getting, a total stranger offered to load her groceries into her car, and that’s when she knew things were different here – in a good way.
“I joined the club right before the pandemic,” Kristin explains. “Talk about great timing! Brenda was a friend who had been inviting me to come, and I finally took the bait in 2020. I came on board as the communications director, sending out weekly e-blasts, letting everyone know what the interest groups were up to, info about our upcoming speakers and events, that sort of thing.”
Kristin became president of the club in July of 2022, taking over for Lisa Kinder. “Lisa did a phenomenal job keeping the group afloat during the pandemic (thank you, Zoom!). Though we lost some members, we have quickly gained membership and have a good routine going. Word of mouth is huge, and the website has been helpful. We also have a booth every year at Steppin’ Out, and our Facebook site is gaining in popularity.”
The club has also attracted the attention of foreign students and family members looking to establish relationships here, integrate into the culture, and share their culture with others. “We have several new Korean members, and we really welcome the diversity that our area offers.”
The Blacksburg Newcomers Club has been a steady pillar of the community since the 1960s. From supporting financial needs of families or needs of local children, to assisting various nonprofits and improving the overall community outlook, the Newcomers are committed to outreach and philanthropy.
“Joanne Dean recruits the guest speakers for our general meetings, and she is the perfect person for the job,” exclaims Kristin. “She is so wonderfully extroverted. She teaches spin classes and runs the “Make A Difference” ranch — her enthusiasm is contagious.”
With more and more people choosing the home-office from which to work, it can be difficult to bridge that gap between home-life and community. If you’re struggling to feel connected to your community, or if you’re simply hoping to make a difference but you’re not sure how, the Blacksburg Newcomers Club may be the perfect place for you.
Text by Emily K. Alberts
Emily K. Alberts was a member of the Blacksburg Newcomers Club back in 2009 when she traded her busy office life to stay at home with her brand-new baby. The monthly meetings offered stimulating conversation (and scrumptious food to boot!).♦ End