Members of The Correspondents Club have met at the pool in their Johns Creek subdivision and a bowling alley. Mary Rittle formed the loose-knit organization so that neighbors could get to know each other and would feel comfortable reaching out to one another if there was an emergency. Contributed

Making connections, forging bonds

When my neighbor called in the middle of the day and asked for help, I knew it was urgent.

“I need two extra hands,” said my neighbor, who is caring for a terminally ill husband.

I was grateful to be able to help her that day.

In our Johns Creek subdivision, we have a strong connection that makes it comfortable to reach out in any circumstance.

It’s a bond that started five years ago.

At the time, I was just divorced and needed to downsize from the large home where I raised my family.

Luckily, I found the perfect house only 2 miles away from where I had lived for more than 20 years. That meant I was still close to former neighbors and my church, my community garden and my favorite restaurants and grocery stores.

Moving into a neighborhood as a single person was new to me. I no longer had children at home to pave the way to easy friendships. Or a husband to help if I was injured or ill.

Although my three sons live in the Atlanta area, the closest is 15 minutes away and the other two are 45 minutes from my door.

I quickly realized that, if I had an emergency, my closest allies would be my new neighbors, so I had better get to know them.

I went through the directory of our 80-home community and found 17 women that appeared to be without a partner or children in the home. I printed up an informal invite to a potluck, and I walked the neighborhood distributing the flyers in each of their mailboxes.

Fourteen ladies came to my home that Friday night – the start of our monthly gathering. Five years later, these active middle aged and senior ladies still meet the second Friday of every month.

For us, this social gathering is a way to connect and get to know one another. After all, we might be the first ones called on to help in an emergency.

That call I received recently from my neighbor was not the first time we’ve turned to one another for help.

Last summer, for instance, a neighbor suddenly found herself lightheaded after doing yardwork, fainted and hit her head. The cut was so bad that she needed stitches.

Luckily, she was able to call on someone she had gotten to know through our group.

When the weather is nice, we meet at the neighborhood pool. Everyone brings her own drinks and snacks, and there is always plenty to share. In the winter months, we head to local restaurants. We’ve even gone bowling.

Since we first began meeting, we’ve jumped in the pool together, danced and sang – even shed a few tears.

Connection and camaraderie bind us together.

This year we gave ourselves a name—The Correspondents Club. It’s a bit lofty, but let’s just say we wouldn’t have felt comfortable putting some of the other suggestions on the community calendar.

The name is fitting. After all, we truly are correspondents. We “report” about what’s happening on our street. We share details about our families. We’ve been known to discuss a health situation or two.

Around the subdivision, we’ve become well-known. So much so that the president of the homeowners’ association, a young married man, will often ask how our meetings are going, knowing full well that the word “meeting” is a stretch for what is often a wine and cheese party.

At times, these gatherings have been as small as four people – and as large as 22. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that we now feel comfortable calling a neighbor, ringing a doorbell, extending an invite or even asking for help.

And that’s what most important about our club.

This time of year, most of us tend to stay indoors. We may not see our neighbors as much as we would like.

That’s why it’s the perfect time to organize a group like ours in your neighborhood.

Most likely, everyone is waiting for someone else to do it.

Maybe it’s up to you.

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