UNION COUNTY, NJ — Female residents new to the area of Cranford, Garwood and Kenilworth are welcome to join the Newcomers’ Club, which meets in Cranford and helps adjust residents to life in the area, giving them a chance to meet new people as well as participate in activities and events. Newcomers’ Club President Abbie Signore recently discussed how the club helped her meet new people when she moved to Cranford.
“I felt like a foreigner when I moved from Iowa to Cranford,” Signore told Cranford Life in an email. “I feel like the club has really given me a sense of belonging in our community. I really do feel that if I wasn’t here for some reason, like I went on vacation or got sick, people would ask and care about me. It’s such a nice feeling to know that people care and that I have a support system of people to call on for club or non-club related issues. I’m really so happy I joined and have gotten the opportunity to become so involved.”
The club members helped her after she had a baby by cooking meals for the family. Signore was so appreciative that she eventually decided to run for president.
“My personal story is that I joined about a month before my first baby was born,” Signore said. “I had been looking for a way to meet people and become more involved and some of the other local clubs weren’t exactly the right fit. But Newcomers’ Club was awesome from Day 1. After my son was born, I was put on the family meals meal train list where other women could sign up to cook my family a meal and help with the chaos that can happen after delivering a baby.
“I was so grateful and impressed by the generosity of the club, I signed up to help other new mothers as soon as possible. Then I got involved in a playgroup for babies and met some wonderful women who truly helped me become a mom. I was offered a position on the board and served for two years as the nominations member, the person who fills empty board positions. It was a great way to learn more of the ins and outs of the club, as well as meet more and more people. When the vacancy for president opened, I volunteered and was warmly received. And here I am!”
And Signore is not the only new resident who was welcomed by the Newcomers’ Club when she moved to Cranford. Meal train coordinator Gwyneth Murray Nolan also found comfort and support with the group when she moved from Hoboken to Cranford in 2014.
“I was involved with the Junior Women’s Club when I first moved to Cranford,” Nolan told Cranford Life in a recent phone interview. “My neighbor introduced me to the group, but it was mostly older women, and we didn’t have much in common. One day my neighbor said she wished she’d gotten involved with the Newcomers’ Club, so I decided to give it a try and I loved it. We were all young moms in similar situations with the same values. We all wanted to find the best schools and parks for our kids. After I had my second baby, I was hospitalized for six weeks. The women had meals delivered to me every other day. They also took care of my husband and 2-year-old. It was incredible to be treated so kindly by strangers. I decided to get involved with the family meals program and do the same for other women. We all help each other through the tough times.”
Other members agree that they immediately felt welcomed by the group.
“I moved to town September 2009 from New York and read about the group in the local paper,” Nicole Consorte, of Cranford, told Cranford Life in an email. “Seeking new friends and to become involved in my new town, I went to a meeting and joined that night.”
Recently, the Newcomers’ Club participated in the Scarecrow Stroll, an event for which local residents, businesses, schools and organizations donate scarecrows that are displayed downtown as festive decorations for the fall season.
“This is the Newcomers’ Club’s second year participating in the Scarecrow Stroll,” Signore told Cranford Life in an email. “Our scarecrow this year was inspired by a board member who said, ‘Sounds like we are making magical Cranford moments’ at our first board meeting. I felt like it was a good slogan for the year, so I conjured up the idea of our lady wizard scarecrow who is brewing up her magical potion which produces a pineapple, our club’s symbol of hospitality.”
Liz Jackson, who handles public relations for the Newcomers Club, told Cranford Life in an email that the nonprofit social club has been active in the community since the 1960s.
“While the primary objective of the club is to welcome newcomers to town, we do have many women who have lived here awhile who join when they have a child and are looking for other women in the same situation,” Jackson said. “The club offers a way to make new friends, hear the latest events that are going on in town and get recommendations on all things Cranford.”
The club also focuses on children and organizing events for them to get to know one another while giving mothers the chance to socialize.
“I actually lived in Cranford for more than five years before becoming a member of Newcomers,” Tina Re Browning, of Cranford, told Cranford Life in an email. “I joined after having my kids, to get involved with playgroups and meet other moms in town. I love the variety of events you can participate in, especially adult nights out. I’ve felt lucky to make so many friends through the group, and as a real estate agent, I highly encourage my clients to join!”
The club is known for its variety of events as well as its focus on mothers and children, and prides itself on helping others.
“The club consists of about 150 women and is organized by a board of 38 members,” Jackson told Cranford Life in an email. “The club plans a wide variety of activities for the members including events for the children, like hosting Halloween and Valentine’s Day parties and organizing playgroups. We have a lively book club that meets monthly. Our advocacy group holds monthly events that help support those in need. We’re especially proud of our involvement in the ‘Adopt-a-Room’ program run by the YWCA of Union County, where we rehabilitated a room to be used by a mother and her baby to escape an abusive situation.
“In addition to the local social activities that we run, we also organize the progressive dinner in the spring, where successive dinner courses are prepared and eaten at the homes of different hosts throughout the night. Since each course is at a different location, it’s a great way to mix and mingle with other couples.”
To join the Newcomers’ Club, attend at meeting at the Hanson House or visit the club’s website at www.cranfordnewcomers.com.
“Our next monthly general meeting is Dec. 13, at 7:45 p.m. at the Hanson House,” Jackson told Cranford Life. “The Hanson House is located at 38 Springfield Ave. and is home to the Cranford Historical Society.”