Make New Friends... 3

Local organization helps bring women together, cultivating service, friendship 
and fun, turning new friendships into old ones.

I stepped outside the door of a shop downtown and into a gaggle of gals laughing and having what seemed to be the time of their lives. It felt like I’d swum into a school of fish, or flown into a group of geese chatting enthusiastically about where they’d been and where they were going next.

They kept going in the opposite direction down the sidewalk and as I walked toward my car, I turned around and looked. Something about them was different. The energy. The smiles. The joy. So I went after them and tapped the first one I reached on the shoulder. The body language of the group opened to me, acknowledging a warm and welcoming reception to my awkward approach.

“Hi. I am sorry to bother you… but something about you all seems… special. May I ask what you’re doing? Are you celebrating something together?”

The rest of the women moved to encircle this inquiring stranger, eager to share the answer to my question.

A lovely smile radiated from the face of the woman who responded. “No. We’re just out shopping and enjoying lunch and time together.”

“Are you from around the neighborhood?” I asked. Only one woman was.  They saw my confusion and several excitedly started explaining.

“We’re part of a group called New Friends of Kansas City. We are a great group of friends who welcome people who are new the city, we get together and do service projects or shop or explore Kansas City. We facilitate friendship.”

This intrigued me because I had experienced being the new person in town many times throughout my life. It can be so difficult to cultivate connections. I was intrigued.

It turns out, New Friends of Kansas City offers a tremendous number of inventive and fun ways to connect with other women from all over. It is a membership group. It’s easy to join online; annual dues are $30. The primary format for connecting is through monthly luncheons, philanthropic projects, and fun events for women who’ve moved into the city or recently attained retired status and are looking for enjoyable things to do. The monthly luncheons are held on the second Thursdays of each month, and include interesting programs. In the philanthropic offerings, the group supports the Cross-lines Cooperative Counsel in their efforts to prevent homelessness, as well as other charities selected yearly. The group offers various volunteer opportunities throughout the year.

But I think the secret behind the spirit of the group has more to do with the amazing array of fun things they do together to build friendships. This group really knows how to create an environment for connections. The list of opportunities is varied and creative, and includes some unique things that seem to offer wonderful adventures, lots of laughter and making memories. Some of the unique opportunities include:

Serendipity  – This group of adventurers meets the first Thursday of each month to travel to small towns within an hour of in Kansas City for lunch and great shopping. (This is the group I encountered.)

Roadshow/Adventures – This group hits the road to explore places of interest in and around Kansas City. Excursions include visiting the Nelson-Atkins Art Gallery, enjoying the Harry S. Truman Museum, or visiting a small historic town.

Other more traditional but offering equally interesting opportunities include Book Club – Diverse groups of women who really enjoy a good book, a strong cup of coffee, and a very lively discussion; Cards & Games – Options for all game fans; Dining Groups – Includes groups that try out Kansas City’s  restaurants as well as home made meals; Socials – This includes the whole club who enjoys getting together for special occasions; SportsKnit, Stitch & Sew; and Movie Groups.

For us to ever have an “Auld Lang Syne,” we have to start somewhere. In the spirit of new beginnings evoked this season, New Friends of Kansas City offers a great place to begin new friendships and new adventures.

Turns out the group I passed by on that downtown sidewalk really was celebrating something. Friendships. That is something to celebrate, and cultivate.