Co-VPs of Activities Cynthia Jensen and Scott Cunningham with President Elaine Eilman | Credit: Gail Arnold

On June 26, about 130 members of the Santa Barbara Newcomers Club gathered at Sandpiper Golf Club for a fun President’s Summer Party. This was just one of about 80 events the social club had last month and has every month year-round.

Guests mingled on the Sandpiper Grill patio and lawn while enjoying the stunning, sunny view of the golf course and ocean; lively music by member Larry Williams and his band, RML; margaritas; and a tasty buffet dinner catered by Taco Man Express. 

Moving to Santa Barbara with all its offerings can be overwhelming, related President Elect Samantha Haentjens, but by joining the club, members have dozens of events planned out for them. The club gives them a nudge to try a new activity or a local business. Members meet people who are equally brave in moving here to paradise, she added, so they already have that in common with others.

VP of Activities Elect Curt Luthy lived in Orange County for 24 years before moving here six months ago. Thanks to Newcomers, he noted, he already has three times as many friends here as he did in O.C. He likened the club to living on campus as a college freshman. Everyone seeks the same thing — to meet people and do stuff and Newcomers provides the perfect means. Some of his favorite activities have been golf, hiking, and small arranged dinner parties in members’ homes.

Member Nancy Upton, who is also a big fan of the club, noted that the business model would appear problematic: an all volunteer-run organization whose entire leadership changes every six months, yet it works amazingly well.

Founded in 1955 and with a current membership of more than 700, the club is designed to introduce newcomers to each other and to the community. While there are plenty of purely social events at members’ homes and public venues, many others revolve around an activity. There are book clubs, performing arts outings, local heritage tours, outdoor activities, community service events, and oh-so much more. Having events structured around common interests helps foster friendships as does joining a committee and planning events with other members.  

With more than 40 committees planning events each month, there really is something for everyone. While the membership skews older, there is a very active Young Professionals Group (YPs) that hosts several of its own events each month. Haentjens, 37, used to lead the YPs and starting in August, will lead the whole organization.

Anyone can join during his or her first 18 months of arrival to the Carpinteria-to-Goleta area. A two year membership costs $135, and if a member serves on committees, another year can be added. As a nonprofit, the club seeks to just cover its expenses so most events have low fees or are free. New Member Orientation Meetings are held monthly.  For more info, go to

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Co-VPs of Activities Elect Curt Luthy and Ed Heywood
Past presidents Allison Paolino and Richard Rogers
Members Manuel Mendoza and Lisa Stewart
Guests enjoy the event.
Guests enjoy the event.
Member Larry Williams and his band RML


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