Monday, September 17, 2012

How can I meet people in the Lehigh Valley?


Despite the thousands of events listed in every week's Go Guide and Exposed, the Lehigh Valley is not the easiest place to meet new people. 

I received an email from a loyal reader who has a common - the most common - challenge among Lehigh Valley Transplant readers. She moved back to the area a few years ago, has two college-aged kids, and wants to make new friends. 

I thought about how to reply to this reader's request for information. My best recommendation would be to volunteer! I have found it to be a rewarding way to make meaningful friendships while making an impact in our community. 

When I first moved to the area, I connected with the alumnae association of my sorority, and advised a group of students at Lehigh University. After a few years, I sought a bigger challenge, and did some research. I joined a committee of a nonprofit I identified that matched my interests and values: Community Services for Children. I  served on the development committee and later joined the organization's capital campaign committee. Soon after, I was invited by the Junior League of the Lehigh Valley, a group of women dedicated to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. I love the group's mix of service and social activities, and the chance to spend time with other like-minded women.

I would recommend that you reach out to organizations that match your own style and values, too. Maybe that's an organization that your place of worship works with, or a nonprofit group that helps animals, kids or the environment. If you're not sure where to start, the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley is a great resource. Their searchable database of volunteer opportunities could connect you with an ongoing opportunity or one-time gig. 

I'd also recommend checking out Meetup.com - I checked it today and saw local meetups for wine lovers, aspiring gourmet cooks, bookworms, scrapbookers, people who want to practice their rusty Spanish, and much more. 

Readers - any other ideas? What would you tell our comrade? What's worked for you?

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