It’s relatively easy to make friends in college. Saddle up and have a beer or coffee with folks on your dorm floor or in your field of study, et voila!
It’s just as simple when you begin having children. Join the preschool PTA or the booster club of your child’s activity of choice, and you collect an automatic group of friends with something in common. To be perfectly frank, if you don’t love the parents of your first child’s friends, you may get lucky with the parents of your younger kids.
But what happens when the baby heads off to college? Where do you go when there are no more parent parties, auctions and happy hours to keep you occupied?
Four couples have formed Empty Nest Social – Lake Highlands, and they are throwing the doors open to neighbors who are ready to make connections that have nothing to do with their kids’ activities.
“The purpose of Empty Nest Social is to foster community relationships and friendships while giving back to the community in which we all live and love,” says Elizabeth Selzer. “Just because our children have flown the coop, doesn’t mean we don’t want to contribute. This is an untapped demographic that is excited to get together and is willing to donate both their time and money to enhance our Lake Highlands community.”
There are no dues to join the group, but members at each gathering are encouraged to contribute to a neighborhood charity. CHEW Animal Clinic will be spotlighted in March, and Youth Believing in Change will be featured at a future event.
The idea for Empty Nest Social began, like many epiphanies, on a girls’ trip. As Monette Irwin and Sharon Kirkpatrick discussed sending their kids off to college, they knew they had the energy and enthusiasm to continue making an impact.
“Our goal is to create meaningful connections and enjoyable experiences for empty nesters who have lost touch with their community due to the absence of their children’s events and activities,” says Kirkpatrick. “We aim to organize fun social gatherings while giving back to local businesses and nonprofits. By identifying local restaurants and charities in need, we will facilitate donations and support during our events.”
In December, the group hosted an Ugly Christmas Sweater dinner at Vector Brewing and donated $1,300 in gift cards to the Lake Highlands High School Angel Tree. This spring, they hope to provide essential dorm room items for a graduating LHHS senior.
“When I was chair of the Lake Highlands Women’s League scholarship committee, I fell in love with those kids. I really wanted to continue supporting some of the amazing kids that have worked so hard and accomplished so much. Most have overcome tremendous obstacles, yet they work really hard to be successful,” says Irwin. “Lake Highlands has always been a community that loves to socialize and to help other LH residents in need — so we combined the two!”
Laurie Stovall agrees.
“I have missed seeing so many friendly faces during all the many school and sporting events over 14 years in Lake Highlands schools. This group satisfies both needs.”
The Empty Nest Social mixer will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9 at Oak Highlands Brewery, 10484 Brockwood.