‘Comfort base’

Newcomer club offers more than a smile and hello for new neighbors

Created date

July 10th, 2017
Maris Grove’s Manny (holding a bottle of wine) and Jean Renzi (with wine glass) host a monthly wine and cheese gathering for new community members.

Maris Grove’s Manny and Jean Renzi host a monthly wine and cheese gathering for new community members.

Maris Grove, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa., has become so popular that this June it opened its Redwood Commons neighborhood with a new clubhouse and two new residence buildings. 

All incoming residents receive a friendly welcome, but Jean and Manny Renzi, who moved to Maris Grove from West Chester, Pa., started a special newcomers club to enhance that.

“We created this as a purely social get-together,” says Jean, “not a club with a purpose. We’re also a resource of information for out-of-staters.”

The monthly predinner wine and cheese gatherings convene at an indoor area adjacent to the community’s Brinton Clubhouse Market.

Jean is the hostess who circulates to keep people mingling. Manny is the bartender.

“Maris Grove is a very friendly place,” he says. “There’s no pressure here, but there are lots of interesting people. You find that seemingly ordinary people have led exciting lives and done amazing things.”

Social venues

New neighbors get acquainted with their neighbors over meals in campus restaurants, at meetings of special interest groups, and by striking up conversations in the hallways or Maris Grove’s three clubhouses.

Still, not everyone feels comfortable reaching out beyond a smile and a hello. 

“The club is like a comfort base until people find their niche,” Jean says. “When I see people looking confused, I tell them about the club. It’s very popular.”

Maris Grove’s nearly 200 special interest groups and ongoing events offer plenty of choices for people to participate in favorite pastimes. The Renzis play bridge and enjoy the Tuesday night opera videos.

Manny uses the campus fitness center and belongs to the veterans club. Jean line dances and serves on the Resident Advisory Council.

“One of the reasons we came here was all the activities,” she says. “There are enough groups here that you find what you want.”

If not, like the Renzis, you can start one yourself.