In 1970, our club was started by a newcomer to the Seacoast, a woman with young children who knew no one in the area. Using her experience with the Welcome Wagon organization, Audrey Link and a friend founded this club, then affiliated with Welcome Wagon. Audrey (she denies being the first President!), ran the meetings, recruited new members, and fostered membership involvement. Her perseverance kept us on a straight course.
In our infancy, postage was 10 cents and dues were $4. Luncheons were in restaurants ("off the menu") and sometimes in members' homes. The newsletter was handwritten and "mimeographed". Who remembers smelly "ditto" documents? The first member directory fit on the back page of the newsletter. Many of the interest groups we enjoy today were started in the early years or are spin-offs of the first groups.
In 1997 dues went up to $5 because postage increased. The club has always had a charitable heart, and although dues did not initially contribute to those efforts, numerous events raised funds for local charities.
In the 1980s, membership grew to about 100. In 1983-84, the Welcome Wagon Newcomers Club became the Seacoast Newcomers Club and dues doubled to $10; luncheons were about $5-$8. As the club grew - more board positions, more special interest groups, more members - dues were raised to $18, with $3 for our designated charity. Luncheons were in the $10 range. Dues inched up to $20.
In the 2000s, dues were raised to $30, with $5 designated as a charitable contribution. We applied for our IRS non-profit designation of a 501c(7). Today we have grown to more than 250 members and continue to have numerous special interest groups and couples events. We have members who have been with our club for much, or all, of its growth. At the December 2013 luncheon, we recognized those with 15, or more, continuous years of membership. We honored 17 active members - each with a custom SNC coffee mug.
In 2013, we dropped some monthly luncheons and focused our efforts on the more popular luncheons in September, December, and May. The Christmas 2013 Luncheon had the largest attendance ever! (Until the December 2014 Luncheon.) A new SIG, "Let's Do Lunch", blossomed from that decision to change our Luncheon schedule. "Let's Do Lunch" has been very successful, going to area restaurants in smaller groups, ordering "off the menu". Sound familiar?
We take advantage of technology, to the best of our abilities! In 2013-14, we published printed newsletters three times - Fall, Winter, and Spring. In the intervening months, we utilized a free email newsletter service to keep members posted on month-to-month updates. We launched a new website at the end of our 2013-14 year, including a secure Members Only area, providing comprehensive and timely news and event information.
We change with the times. What we do evolves based on who we are and what we enjoy. New faces, new ideas, and all hands to work enable us to thrive. You may see Audrey at bridge, a coffee, or a luncheon. Thank her for planting the seed that grew into the strong and vibrant club that we are today.