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Group helps new Sewickley residents feel welcome

| Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

You don't have to be new to join the Newcomers.

You just have to want to make new friends, have fun and lend a hand when you can, said Sewickley Newcomers & Neighbors club president Erika Zeranski.

Zeranski said the club, which kicked off its new season earlier this month with a meet-and-greet social gathering, not only encourages membership for women who have just moved to the area but also invites Sewickley area natives to give it a try as well.

She said longtime residents can pass on their knowledge of the area, and it is fun for them to make new friends and participate in the social programs.

The group hosts several events a month for women new to the area along with several events for couples.

Zeranski, who moved back from Manhattan and has been a member of the group for three years, said she met most of her friends at Newcomers & Neighbors social functions.

She said she took on the president's role this year because she remembers how many people stepped up to welcome her when she came to town.

“I had family here, but no friends, and everyone was so friendly,” she said. “It was easy to meet people.”

Club membership usually is about 100 each year, she said.

Each month, the social gathering has a theme. In October, members will participate in a haunted tour of the Village. In November, a chef will provide tips for holiday appetizers, and in December, there will be a gift exchange.

The club also has a spring fling social gathering annually at a member's home and other parties, Zeranski said.

Last year, Zeranski arranged a Christmas gift preview with 12 vendors at the Edgeworth Club. She said she hopes it again will be planned for this year. Members also have the opportunity to give back through the Sewickley Serves division of the group.

Chairwoman Jodie Welge sets up volunteer work for members with various groups each month.

This year, two nonprofit organizations have been selected for the first half of the club's year: Family House, which provides an affordable “home away from home” for patients and their family seeking medical treatment for serious illnesses, and Hope Haven Farm, an animal sanctuary on Wexford-Bayne Road that houses rescued and neglected animals.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or jbarron@tribweb.com.

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