“Exile on Main Street” — last week’s cleverly titled New York Observer story on city dwellers who move to the suburbs, then quickly flee back because they have to take care of their house/can’t get 24-7 takeout/realize they must take a train to work — led with the sad tale of Lynn Shanahan.
The CEO of an apparel firm had imagined “long morning walks, the serene return in the evenings.” Moving back to New York couldn’t come fast enough.
“The noise at night was hard at first, but the adjustment happened really fast,” she reported. “It’s such a joy to be home from work in 15 minutes. And I can’t believe I can just call a friend to meet for a drink.”
She should have called Tina Crosby, before or after she moved here.
Tina knew just one person: her realtor.
But a new neighbor — a woman who’d moved often, and could meet people quickly — told her about Neighbors and Newcomers of Westport. The club introduced Tina to dozens of people. She made lifelong friends.
Nearly 2 decades later, she’s co-president of the organization. Clearly, it retains a hold long after “new residents” become “long-timers.”
Members enjoy clam bakes, coffees, holiday parties, kayaking, barbecues, happy hours, wine tastings and TGIF get-togethers.
They play canasta. They go hiking and to movies. There is a book club, culinary group and luncheon club. There are trips to museums, baby and toddler play groups, and girls’ nights out. The group is always looking for new ideas, and very responsive to members’ needs.
Though many members are indeed newcomers — and most are women — Neighbors and Newcomers is open to anyone. Men are active, Tina says, and there are singles as well as couples.
“Whoever joins creates the energy we need,” she notes.
Tina relishes the friendships she’s made. She’s not alone.
“This group was my saving grace when I moved to Westport 9 years ago!” Kristin O. raves on the website.
A single woman from New York, she formed a social circle she relies on today. Now married, with 2 daughters, she continues to enjoy Neighbors and Newcomers events.
Tina C. appreciates the fact that — with her children now grown — she has more free time to join in group activities.
Diane Z. found the group 3 weeks after arriving in town. She never imagined she would “be so busy, and meet so many great women at this stage of my life.”
Barrie Sesmer describes moving to Westport 4 years ago. A “Welcome Back” coffee changed her life here.
“The ladies were so warm and welcoming,” she says. “They had all been in the same boat, and made me feel right at home.”
Barrie began organizing events, led the newsletter and became vice president. Today, she serves with Tina as co-president.
Neighbors and Newcomers is one of those organizations that flies under the radar, but impacts lives.
Too bad Lynn Shanahan never found it. She too would have been able to “call a friend to meet for a drink” — just like back in New York.
(For more information, click on Neighbors and Newcomers of Westport.)