CHILDREN MAKE friends instantly. After just a few minutes on the swing, a brief word of introduction, or chasing each other around the slide, they share the title of best friends. If only friendship came as quickly for adults. Well, it can. Since 1957, the Lynchburg Area Newcomers’ Club has provided ladies 18 years and older with book clubs, coffee get-togethers, day-trip excursions, craft projects, games, and so much more. The club motto is: “Where there are no strangers, only friends we haven’t met.”
Club President Rhonda Perrett said, “We welcome ladies who are brand new to the area, as well as those who have lived here for many years and are looking to make friendships and connections. We have members from all over the United States with various backgrounds and interests. Our club members find a sense of belonging and become an integral part of a diverse group. This platform is where meaningful connections blossom, making every activity they join richer and more memorable. As president, I feel like every month is filled with a unique kind of magic for us. It’s a joy and privilege to work among such incredible people on the board and those who serve behind the scenes. From president to hostess, we are all volunteers. It is the dedicated individuals who make our club so vibrant and inviting.”
When the Newcomers’ Club receives inquiries from prospective members, current members invite them to a luncheon or coffee outing to welcome them. “You only have one first impression,” said Perrett, “And we strive to make any prospective members feel glad they reached out to us.” Yearly membership fees are $15, and we offer a half-price discount for anyone joining after June 30. Members have access to a private Facebook page and periodic newsletters where upcoming events are posted.
Perrett, who originally lived in New York for 31 years, retired to Lynchburg with her husband five years ago. “We could’ve gone anywhere in the United States, but we basically moved here not knowing anyone or anything. This is a very special place, and we feel very blessed to call this ‘home.’ The people here have a sort of undeniable charm. Even though there are a lot of transplants here from other states, you still feel the Southern hospitality. Living in the heart of Virginia is genuinely something special. But what truly sets us apart isn’t just the picture-perfect landscape nestled among the mountains. It’s the sense of camaraderie and tight-knit community that blossoms here. Neighbors aren’t just fellow residents who happen to live next door; they are an integral part of my daily life, embodying the spirit of friendship and mutual support. The friendly waves as we walk through our neighborhood, the shared laughter, community gatherings, and the ready-to-help-when-needed mentality give a sense of belonging and warmth that forms the true essence of living here.”
Members herald the praises of being representatives of the club, along with the slower-paced lifestyle, down-to-earth hospitality, and serene beauty that Lynchburg offers. “The views of the Blue Ridge [Mountains] are spectacular,” said Vice President Cindy Calhoun. “We are a little over an hour from Charlottesville and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, but we have his summer home right here. We have a historic downtown, the Academy Theater, and many colleges that provide sports and theatrical entertainment. Our location at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains provides the most beautiful views! And I love that we experience all four seasons. I like that things move a bit slower here than in a larger city.”
Jo Ann Moore, who serves as the club secretary, said, “I moved here in 2014 and didn’t know anyone. It didn’t take long to make new friends. The church, neighbors, waitstaff, and even strangers on the street are all eager to help newcomers feel welcome. There are many activities, such as plays, concerts, and wonderful outdoor activities for the whole family, like rafting on the James River or Smith Mountain Lake. There are several churches, parks, hiking trails, and historical sites to visit. There are many activities for all ages, and Lynchburg will welcome you with a friendly smile and open arms. The holidays are exciting for our club members because there are so many activities to attend. Christmas lights go up early, and you feel the excitement in the air.” GN