Linda Alleyne is in her final year as a newcomer.
Membership for the Victoria Women’s Newcomers Club is limited to three years, the average span it takes for a newcomer to make connections and create social networks.
“If you’ve never moved into a city on your own, or with your husband or family … it’s isolating, it’s difficult to make friends. Having a club like ours, that’s the answer,” said Alleyne, the club’s publicity co-ordinator.
It’s a lively, fun-loving volunteer organization, organized by women for women to help each other navigate the ups and downs of moving to a new city. Members come from all over Canada with a handful from abroad.
They meet once a month for a social luncheon at the Uplands Golf Club, where knowledgeable guest speakers provide valuable information and insights into living in Victoria.
“Coming, at our ages especially, it’s not easy to make friends … we don’t have small children to meet at schools and there are just few avenues to meet people. Being all new members, everyone is exited to be here, has chosen to be here,” she said. “You tend to make friends really quickly because everybody’s in the same boat – 100 plus of us have no friends essentially.”
A highlight for her was last year’s venture into dragonboating. The Newcomers created a team for both the Gorge and Inner Harbour races.
“I’ve really enjoyed that, something I never thought I would do at my age, 64. We had a ball doing that and it really bonded that group,” she said. “It’s just fun to get on the water, especially for myself coming from Calgary.”
It’s just one of the myriad special activity groups that meet weekly, bi-weekly and monthly for socializing, walking, golfing, playing bridge, learning mah-jjong, meeting at new restaurants, exploring new sites, sharing books and essentially exploring Greater Victoria.
Alleyne’s three years are up come April.
“We’ve had so much fun in this group. We hate to leave it but it has to be done. The conversation gets different, the focus is different,” she said. “Generally by that time you’ve made good contacts and friends… You’re not so much a tourist in the city anymore.”
It helps that women can simply graduate to the Newcomers of Victoria Alumnae, or NOVA, if they choose.
An annual fee of $25 per member covers administrative costs and the Newcomers meet regularly, the second Wednesday of each month, at Uplands Golf Course, where the activity books are laid out for even the newest of newcomers to peruse and sign up.
“There’s a wealth of activities, at least 15 to 20 activities to choose from … If somebody has a great idea, we say ‘go for it’,” Alleyne said. “It’s experiencing the city, every aspect of the city.”
The next meeting is Feb. 11 at 11:30 a.m. at Uplands Golf Course. Go online to vicdaynewcomers.ca for more information.