Sumter Newcomers club celebrating 50 years

By IVY MOORE
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 2/20/18

When Arlene Janis and her husband moved to Sumter more than 20 years ago, she knew almost no one here and had no family in the area. Then she read a listing in the newspaper about activities in the area and went to a Sumter Newcomers Club …

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Sumter Newcomers club celebrating 50 years

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When Arlene Janis and her husband moved to Sumter more than 20 years ago, she knew almost no one here and had no family in the area. Then she read a listing in the newspaper about activities in the area and went to a Sumter Newcomers Club meeting.

The mission of the club, she found, is "to welcome people to Sumter. (It is) a social, nonprofit organization existing under the auspices of the city (since February 1968) to assist new residents to become acquainted with one another and to inform them of available activities and services in the community."

"Annie Epperly invited me to a coffee and to play Bunco," she said. "I got my husband involved in Bunco groups, and we had socials with couples."

Janis soon joined the club and is now its current president.

"I've made lots of friends in the club," she said.

The same is true for Vice President Irma Wolfe, another longtime member and past president of the Newcomers.

"Some people had been members for 40 years" when she joined, Wolfe said.

New and prospective members are welcomed to the club with coffees and luncheons, she said. Like Janis, Wolfe enjoys the meetings and the games.

Members get together several days a week for the dice game Bunco and other games, such as Quix, Triominos and a variety of card games, including bridge, pinochle and canasta. There are also a book club and other activities.

"We enjoy activities that tax our brains," Wolfe said. "We are active, alive and well."

Many members have become widows since joining the club, Wolfe said.

"That group has been a blessing to me," she said. "I believe in the club. I thoroughly enjoy the activities."

The Newcomers select a theme each year, and Wolfe is in charge of setting up programs each month, she said. The 2018 theme is "People in Our Neighborhood."

Already this month, the club has had a breakfast during which Sumter Mayor Joseph McElveen presented the Newcomers an official document proclaiming Feb. 28 Sumter Newcomers Day in Sumter. The occasion is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the club, and, Wolfe said, "Mayor McElveen has the most interesting position in Sumter."

The club has also had panels on different elements of the theme with local speakers from various backgrounds, including published authors.

Janis said the Newcomers Club will have the main celebration of its 50th anniversary with a dinner catered by Lilfred's restaurant, a program and music by the Sumter High School String Quartet on Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Alice Boyle Garden Center. Most of the club's 98 members will be in attendance, including several past presidents, and charter member Lois Moses will be recognized.

The Sumter Newcomers Club offers "a wonderful opportunity to meet other women in Sumter," Wolfe said, "and to make lifelong friends."

For more information about the Sumter Newcomers Club, call membership chairwoman Jeanne Bessel at (803) 469-0598.