By Janet Klein, Published on November 27, 2014
Since the kickoff of our neighborhood group concept last May, there’s been much activity! Each group has gathered for at least one event and generated many positive responses. How nice to get together in homes and backyards, with no agenda, no business to address, but simply to get better acquainted with our neighbors and share some time together.
Our initial vision was to have each group develop organically around the needs and desires of its members. We expect and encourage change and adaptive growth to better meet those needs. It’s happening.
One of the developments: two groups of two neighborhoods have decided they would like to join together to increase their participants. Those “marriages” are: High Rock is joining the Rosemary and Towns West neighborhood to form, yes, Rosemary, High Rock, and Towns West. And the Northeast Needham and Newton neighborhood is merging with Hunnewell to form The Heights and Newton. So now we have eight neighborhoods.
To support the neighborhood effort and make it easier to understand the boundaries, the color codes on our name tags, and who is in which group, look around for 3 new resources at church: a street map of Needham with labels and lines delineating the neighborhoods, a color code key in the name tag cabinet to answer the question, “What does this color mean?” and a notebook in the church administrator’s office with members’ and friends’ contact info listed by each of the eight neighborhoods.
Next steps will be developing processes to smoothly incorporate new members into neighborhood groups, keeping contact info lists current, and noting the neighborhood on each person’s page on the Realm. We will also be thinking about how to share news and ideas about events with each other going forward, perhaps with a place on the First Parish website for Neighborhood News.
It’s exciting to see this seed of an idea blossoming so beautifully. Thanks to all who have responded and gathered as neighbors !
Each group has a brief report following.
Captains: Amy and Tony Cicala
We just had a very successful potluck supper with our neighborhood group. About 22 adults and 7 kids came for an enjoyable evening with great food, conversation and time to talk with Catie Scudera. As we talked, there was some interest in discussing a book or movie, but the overall feeling was to keep it social for now. All saw the importance of having a neighbor to call if needed. We are doing Social Hour in a few weeks and have picked out a date in January for our next potluck.
Rosemary and Towns West
Captains: Kathi Cotte and Dick Eastman
We’ve met two times–once on a June Sunday (2 people for a walk to church after a light breakfast at our house) and in the beginning of September (16 people for a barbecue.) We had a nice time and people were happy to be together. As of now, we are hoping to host a Social Hour in February and thinking of trying to get people to make sandwiches for Generic Ministry.
Captains: Lyn and Eliot Jekowsky
We’ve met 2 times. One Sunday late afternoon in June for drinks and snacks. 8 people attended. We met on an October Friday night at 7:30 for drinks and snacks. 7 people attended. The events have been very successful. We are happy to be joining forces with Rosemary and Towns West to create a larger group.
Captains: Jackie Boni and Lynn Franceschi
We met one time for a BBQ in September. We had around 25 people attend, so it was a great response! People were very happy to meet, but no one has picked up doing another activity.
Captains: Gail Lehman and Jen Robbins
We’ve only met once so far: a very nice potluck supper at Laura and Arturo Perez’s home on September 28th with 16 adults and 4 children. Great food, and we went around and introduced ourselves briefly, told where we lived, and welcomed each other as neighbors. Our group hosted Social Hour in early November, and our next scheduled event is another potluck December 7 at Cathy Livingston’s.
The Purple Neighborhood
Captain: Kay Taylor
The Purple Neighborhood has had three activities: an outdoor party at the Taylor’s during the summer, a patio party at Erna and Bob Place’s home in the fall, and we took responsibility for one of the Social Hours in September. We’re working on two possibilities: making sandwiches for Generic Ministries and exploring the sale of Equal Exchange coffee and chocolate at Social Hour in December.
Dick Anthony and Jim Leffingwell
We had a BBQ in June with 5 First Parish neighbors and enjoyed getting to know some new people from church. We talked about experiences living abroad, bicycle riding, and locating to the Boston area from New York. We are working on a couple ideas and hope to have some plans in the works soon.
Northeast Needham and Newton
Captain: Jackie Shepherd
Our group had one brunch in the spring with 5 people. For the second brunch in Sept. only 3 people could attend so it was canceled. We look forward to joining with Hunnewell to make a larger group, The Heights and Newton.
Captain: Karla Barbieri
The Hunnewell neighborhood has met once so far. We had a backyard gathering in July with dessert, drinks, and conversation About twelve people attended, with many others being interested but not available that evening. This was primarily a social event, though there was some informal discussion about ideas for future neighborhood gatherings. Another meeting of our group will be initiated soon, with our combined group, The Heights and Newton.
The East End
Captains: Janet Klein and Amy Brown
Our neighborhood group gathered first in June for an afternoon on the breezeway and patio with appetizers and drinks. There were 24 adults and 6 children, happy to get to meet some new First Parish neighbors and know each other better. We decided we’d like to have an event every other month and 5 people agreed to be an informal planning group for a couple upcoming gatherings. In August we had a Friday evening game night at church – even though we knew many people would be away – and 12 or so adults and children had terrific fun playing charades and board games. Our big event was the pot luck hosted by Ruth and Larry Kolbe in early October. Thirty enthusiastic adults and children shared delicious food and wine and great conversation. We’ve hosted Social Hour, plan to make sandwiches for Generic Ministry December 30, and have a Sunday evening supper scheduled on February 8th with Rev. Catie.