(Photo taken before the COVID-19 pandemic.) Some members of the Brandon Newcomers Club attended a luncheon together at Ulele in Tampa.

Are you new to the area or just looking to get out and meet people locally?

The Brandon Newcomers Club began building friendships since 1961 through a couple named Donna Hilbrands and her husband, Ben Hilbrands. The group meets from September through May on the third Wednesday of every month at the Brandon Community Center, located at 502 E. Sadie St. in Brandon. The next meeting will take place on Tuesday, October 20 at 10 a.m.

Barbara Babiarz, who resides in Valrico and is the secretary at the Brandon Newcomers Club, mentioned what the club is all about.

“We look for people to come and make new friends,” Babiarz said.

To become a member, the cost is $20 for the year. The group offers numerous activities, including a book club, arts and crafts as well as card games, along with dominoes, Sudoku and more. At times, some of the members venture out to either grab a bite to eat, participate in a gals’ night out and much more.

The Brandon Newcomers Club consists of nearly 100 members and there is always room for more. Those considering joining do not need to be new to the area; people can be longtime residents. With most of the members here being ages 50 and up, it welcomes everyone. To join, one does not need to reside in Brandon. The club is open to those living in the surrounding areas, such as Valrico, Seffner, Plant City and more.

Last month was the first meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic. Babiarz stated that people were ready to meet again. Lilly Zeij, who resides in Brandon and is the president at the Brandon Newcomers Club, also said that the club is trying to get everyone back in the swing of meeting again. Throughout the pandemic, members remained informed by a monthly newsletter.

Babiarz provided her input on what she believes makes the Brandon Newcomers Club special.

“We offer friendship and women a place to go to meet friends,” Babiarz said. “It can be hard for some at times to meet people,” she added.

For more information, call Zeij at 653-4381 or Babiarz at 685-1230.

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Tatiana Ortiz is a freelance writer with the Osprey Observer Newspaper. She began as an intern here in 2010 and has been writing since. Tatiana graduated from the University of South Florida in 2015. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. In her free time, Tatiana enjoys photography, biking and being with her family.