Local club embraces area newbies

BY KATIE SIMS | JULY 17, 2009 7:15 AM

Margaret Kaltefleiter lost her ocean view when she moved to Iowa City for a new job. But after leaving Florida, she soon gained new friendships and insight into her city.

A flier for a women’s group caught Kaltefleiter’s eye at the Coralville Public Library. It advertised the Newcomers’ Division of the University Club, which is designed to bring together women during their first four years of living in Iowa City and introduce them to the community.

Founded in 1917, the University Club — not directly affiliated with the UI — allows women living in Iowa City to socialize and support the UI through social events and scholarships. Members don’t have to be employed by the university — the only requirement is they live in the area.

The newcomers’ group brought 25 women to Terrapin Coffee in Coralville Thursday morning. Mostly between the ages of 40 to 60, the monthly meeting featured coffee and conversation.

“It’s a great way to form friendships when you are new in town,” Kaltefleiter said, noting that a recent martini party one of the members threw was “a blast.”

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Once the caffeine-fueled chatter died down Thursday, Pat Boleans, the president of the Newcomers’ Division, began the meeting by discussing an upcoming silent auction. The goal is to raise money for the groups’ scholarship fund, which is usually awarded to two female UI students every year but will only be given to one this year because of the lousy economy.

All of the Big Ten schools have women’s organizations similar to the University Club, Boleans said. And though the overarching group isn’t affiliated with the UI, it stays connected. Professors and university employees speak at monthly luncheons, and scholarships are given to UI students.

The summer meetings are every third Thursday at Terrapin Coffee, and the rest of the year, they are held at restaurants or members’ homes. The yearly dues are $15 — which pays for functions and events — and include membership to the University Club and other special groups such as newcomers, bridge, knitting, golf, and Texas hold ’em poker.

“You can’t get anything for $15 anymore; it’s a great deal,” Kaltefleiter said.

One thing everyone in the bunch has in common is they have recently relocated to the city. Teri Blume, the vice president of the Newcomers’ Division, moved to Iowa City from Columbia, Mo., with her significant other two years ago so he could get back to his roots.

“The people here are so friendly,” Blume said. “And for the size of the town, there is so much culture.”

Blume cited the Jazz and Art Festivals as some of her favorite events.

Iowa City has another draw: It’s a great place to retire. Jackie Harb, an adviser for the group, said Iowa City popped up on all of the top-10 lists during her search for a place to spend retirement.

She and her husband made the move from Milwaukee three years ago, and Harb joined the Newcomers’ Division after seeing a notice in the paper.

Harb said she loves that the UI is near the heart of downtown; it reminds her of her hometown — New Orleans. She and her husband frequently eat downtown, and she said she can’t wait to dine at Chef’s Table, 223 E. Washington St.

The Newcomers’ next event is a tailgate party on Aug. 29 at the Kent Park Deer Run Shelter. Families are welcome and instructed to wear their college colors — there is even a prize for the best-dressed couple. All of the events can be found in the University Club’s newsletter, the Clarion.

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