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Sandy Allard is helping to make a move to Killingworth even easier with the formation of a Newcomers Club. (Photo by Margaret McNellis/The Source | Buy This Photo)
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Killingworth is a great town in part because it’s a small town, says Sandy Allard, but she also knows the difficulty with moving to a small town can be meeting the other community members. She’s now taking steps to ensure newcomers are welcome.
“If you don’t have children it’s almost impossible to meet people,” Sandy says.
Killingworth doesn’t have a senior center, so older residents might find it especially difficult to find friends.
Soon after she moved to Killingworth, she discovered the Killingworth Women’s Organization (KWO).
“I love it,” she says. “I’ve been there since 2009. I love the town; this is my place. This is the place I feel the best, where I want to work and help people.”
Sandy shares the task of welcoming new members to the KWO with Donna Fornal.
“I get to meet and interview new members,” she says. The organization’s membership is about 45.
The KWO has, according to Sandy, seeded and nurtured additional friendships and groups. Sandy began to notice that when she interviewed new KWO members, everyone shared one thing in common: They wanted to join the KWO to meet people.
The spark for the Newcomers Club ignited and in the beginning of 2019, it was born.
Sandy says the Town Assessor’s Office was able to provide data on the past two years of property sales. This public data offered the best opportunity to get in touch with newcomers to Killingworth.
On Jan. 27, the first meeting was held at June’s Outback in Killingworth. It was a meet-and-greet attended by about 30 people, according to Sandy, including a host committee that includes Lions Club members, board members from Parmelee Farm, and the Killingworth Library.
“Everybody thought it was a huge success,” Sandy says.
June’s Outback provided the food for the first meeting.
The second meeting, which took place at the Barrel House, a new micro-winery opening soon on Route 81 in Killingworth, was even more successful, with a turnout of about 50 residents.
“People are just happy to meet other people,” Sandy says.
The next Newcomers Club event takes place on Sunday, May 5 from 3 to 5 p.m. at June’s Outback, 184 Route 81, Killingworth. More than 200 postcards have been sent to new residents of Killingworth inviting them to the event.
“It’s so much fun,” Sandy says. “[Newcomers] are so thankful to come out and get together.”
The meetings are non-political and non-religious, which Sandy says is a necessity in order to keep the gatherings focused on welcoming all new residents to the town.
At the gatherings, the club asks attendees to indicate their interest groups, and then the club can put folks in touch with those who share their interests.
Eventually, the goal is that the club will be run for newcomers, by newcomers, but Sandy is happy to be part of the initial efforts to get it up and running.
Sandy’s own journey to Killingworth was remarkable. In 2003, she’d been living in Waterford with her husband Bill, a fellow snowbird, when they decided Killingworth was where they wanted to live. They were in Florida at the time.
“My daughter checked this house,” Sandy says of her current home. “I sent my husband up and we made an offer.”
But their offer was turned down. Sandy thought they’d have to go back to square one to find their new home in the north, but then the unexpected happened.
“Weeks later, we got a call that the first deal” didn’t go through, Sandy says. “They asked if we were still interested. We ended up going to the closing and I’d never been in [the house].”
Sandy trusted her daughter and Bill, but purchasing a home she’d never seen was a leap of faith—one she does not regret.
“We never thought we’d own two places,” Sandy says.
But beyond dual home ownership, Sandy loves the community in Killingworth. In addition to the KWO and the Newcomers Club, Sandy heads the mystery book club at Killingworth Library and she teaches mahjong.
“I love to play mahjong,” Sandy says. “I’ve trained 15 people. You can’t cross the Florida border unless you play.”
Sandy says she’s fortunate to have friends and family in both Killingworth and her home in Florida, where she has also volunteered at a local hospice.
“I like to be around good people,” she says. “My days are so full and I like that. I like helping people.”
If the growing numbers at Newcomers Club gatherings are an indication, the club’s—and Sandy’s—efforts are indeed helping people make new connections with new neighbors to build a closer-knit community.
The Newcomers Club is open to men and women, to people who have kids and to those who don’t.
“The primary goal,” Sandy says, is for newcomers to meet newcomers, and for the group to enrich itself.”
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