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Gainesville Newcomers' Club celebrates 50th anniversary
Amy Schick, Gainesville Newcomer’s Club member and past president, talks with Avalyn Parker, a past president from 1988-1989, Wednesday during the club’s 50th anniversary luncheon at the Chattahoochee Country Club. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

When Avalyn Parker relocated with her family from New Jersey to Gainesville, she expected many things.

But a mini-blizzard wasn't one of them.

"When we arrived there were 8 inches of snow on the ground. I was very familiar with snow, but I didn't anticipate seeing anything like that in Georgia," Parker said.

The next day, she found an organization of friends who helped her overcome many obstacles — snow shock included — related to being a transplant to the area.

"I looked up the chamber of commerce in the phone book that was left at our new house. The next day, I went down there and I said, ‘Where's the newcomers' club and when do they meet?'" Parker said.

"I went to the very next meeting and I'm glad that I did — it's a wonderful organization."

The Gainesville Newcomers' Club, of which Parker would become the 30th president in 1988, was the brainchild of local businessman John Jacobs.

"In 1959, the poultry industry was making headway (in Hall County). We were having (dozens) of families move here each month and (Jacobs) said that we needed something to welcome them to the area," said Cheryl Tefft, the club's president for 2009-2010.

"Since then, we've grown from 50 women that attended the first coffee to 312 members."

During a Founder's Day Luncheon on Wednesday, the group celebrated its 50th anniversary.

"I don't know what I would've done without the newcomer's club when we moved from Gwinnett," said Lou Durden, the organization's publicity committee chairwoman.

"We meet once a month and we always have very interesting programs. We have fun, but we're not just a social club - we also do a lot of good in the community."

In addition to donating time, the organization has also given away more than $45,000 to local charities and nonprofit organizations in the last 10 years alone.

Although they do have couples' outings occasionally, the club is just for women.

On top of regular luncheons, the group also hosts various activities throughout the month, from gardening to antique exploring and even "Pistol Packin Mamas."

"The newcomer's club really gets you indoctrinated into the community," Tefft said.

"When you move here, you may not know a soul - but when you come to one of our meetings, you meet 300 new friends — we make sure of that."


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