New neighbors find friendship

Published 3:48 pm Monday, April 19, 2010

“Fun and friendship definitely define the group of women who meet at Ekklesia coffee shop in Chelsea each Friday morning,” said Robin Chandler, president and membership chairman of the area’s New Neighbors club.

“This group provides an instant set of friends who love and support each other.”

Casey Morris, Ekklesia owner, “is very gracious to allow us to invade his shop every Friday as we play a variety of games,” Chandler said. “We may have three or four players; we may have 10.”

Sometimes they stay and have the “amazing” chicken salad for lunch, she said.

The local club, which was chartered in 1994 as one of 14 New Neighbors League clubs nationwide, currently has 72 members from towns in Shelby County and Birmingham.

“Some of our members are new to the area, while others have lived here for many years,” Chandler said.

The club’s purpose is not only to bring together new neighbors so they may make friends while adjusting to new surroundings, but also for women who have had a change in their lives or who are simply looking for a friendly group, she said.

Activities include girls’ night out, book club, dining out, chick flicks, walking group, healthy living group and others.

There is a coffee and a luncheon once a month, with presentations by experts on topics from art and decorating to horticulture and women‘s health issues.

Members choose activities according to their interests and schedules.

I recently found Carolyn Lloyd, Diane Dewitt and Jo Teil playing canasta at Ekklesia. Some of the group does something together almost every day, they told me. On this particular Friday, a group was in Eufaula for “Pilgrimage Day.”

“We toured two gardens and four homes,” Chandler said. The club has plans to visit an antique shop later this month and High Museum in Atlanta in May.

When she moved into the area, her two children were away at college, Chandler said. She suddenly realized they had been her way of meeting new people, but now she was on her own. Then she received a card in the mail, inviting her to coffee with the New Neighbors club.

“One visit with this group and I was hooked,” she said. “They have enriched my life in many ways.”

Anyone wanting more information may call Robin Chandler at 678-7470 or e-mail

Shelba Nivens can be reached by e-mail at