Moving Forward: Estero Bay Newcomers Group

Written by Judy Salamacha

June 29, 2023

Members of the  Estero Bay Newcomers Club. Pictured (top) Beverly Yoshida, Janis Siems, Karen Matteson, Ted Leibman, Nanci Teter, and David Cheney. (bottom)Marianne Davis, Kathy Ulsh, Theresa theiler, Pam Jackson, Patrice Promack, Marianne Frost, Mary Chicchillo, Kathy Scruton, Susan Skalla. Photo by Judy Salamacha

Well, my loyal reader friends, do I have a group for you! I had the pleasure of meeting several welcoming ladies and gentlemen having too much fun at their monthly board meeting in Los Osos. It’s called Estero Bay Newcomers Club and it exists to enjoy living life every day in the Estero Bay.  

EBNC originally formed in 1971 as a committee within the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce. Currently Co-President Kathy Scruton shares leadership with Pam Jackson. Scruton explained, “There are Newcomer Clubs all over California, but they operate differently and are non-affiliated.”  

The mission prominently stated on their monthly newsletter reads, “Estero Bay Newcomers Club (EBNC) is a social club, whose mission is to promote fellowship among newcomers to the Estero Bay community. EBNC provides opportunities to acquaint all members with the social, cultural and community service opportunities available in the areas surrounding Estero Bay.” 

Who knew SLO County has a donkey sanctuary? A planning committee of Estero Bay Newcomers Club was looking for an adaptive horse ranch facility to visit and discovered Rancho Burro. Several members enjoyed petting and learning about Romeo, BoBo, Norton, Rosie, Cassanova, Teddy, Tutti, Bella, Ruby, Chile, Dory, Polly, Henry and Gracie. The ranch, a nonprofit, is dedicated to giving homeless, abused, abandoned and neglected donkeys a safe, loving and healthy home. 

Maybe on that same day or some other day during that month, a different Newcomers’ group was out playing golf or pickleball together. Some are hiking somewhere like Bishops Peak or Montano de Oro. Others are enjoying a slower paced ‘walk & talk’ along Morro Bay’s Harbor Walk. The Newcomers Club has two book groups. Some members travel together. Others play bunco or create craft projects together or meet to share gardening tips. And just as its group name infers, “It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere” and somewhere in the Estero Bay, a group of the Estero Bay Newcomers Club is toasting another day living in paradise.    

Susan Skalla is the activities director. Each activity group has a lead person, so Skalla doesn’t micromanage all the groups within the Newcomer’s network. The Bridge group will determine where they play, and the Wine Tasting group will decide which winery to visit, and members of the Cuesta College Performing Arts group will buy their own tickets to sit together. Skalla keeps tabs on what and how each group is doing, refers new members based on their interests, and when someone has an idea for a new group activity, she passes the concept by the board and helps the group get started. EBNC’s newest group is called “Explorers & Meanderers.” Their plan is to attend cultural events, art shows, and museums. 

Their biggest gathering of the year is typically the fashion show at Madonna Inn coming up on Wednesday, July 19. Scruton said, “We’ll have about 100 members attend. This year Lavender Blu Boutique of Morro Bay is producing the show.” It is a members’ only event, but the Newcomers Club is always open for new members to join – even before July 19 just to go to the fashion show annually. Check out for more information. 

Membership director Kathy Ulsh reported, “We have 163 members and dues are only $20 per year.” It used to be considered a club for women, but many of the activities were just as attractive to men, so there is a growing number of men who have joined and regularly participate. Ulsh smiled and added, “Well, maybe not so much the fashion show.” 

Who qualifies as an Estero Bay Newcomer? Originally membership was limited to two years. It was later extended to five years. “Some move on, but many enjoy the activities and the friendships they have created and want to continue to participate as members,” said Scruton.  

EBNC eventually decided members could remain active as long as they supported the group with the $20 fee annually, continued to enjoy the activities they were participating in and lived in the Estero Bay area or regularly visited the Estero Bay. Well worth the investment might be another favorite annual event that happens in October. It’s a luncheon hosted on the Chablis Dinner Cruise Boat in Morro Bay. 

Marianne Frost is the arrangements director. She might have the most challenging of the club’s jobs. Consistent with their mission to learn and experience what is available in the community, Frost locates a different area restaurant for each of their monthly meetings. The restaurant needs to accommodate 25 to 30 people and be open to a guest speaker that won’t be a disturbance to their other guests. In June they met at Maya’s new restaurant on Morro Bay’s Embarcadero. Maya’s outside patio area was able to fit their needs.    

Treasurer Nanci Teter explained, “It’s my social club.” Nanci and Pat Teter recently retired and moved from the Central Valley. It was always their goal. For 25 years they have had their retirement home and vacationed in Morro Bay. “But once we were here full time, we realized that we were not really plugged into our community and we both enjoy being involved.” A local friend introduced Nanci to Newcomers and Pat joined Morro Bay Rotary. 

Most of their members have been referred by a Newcomers member or their realtor or a neighbor. It is not unusual for someone to move to the area and not know anyone. Even retirees might think they want to slow down but realize enjoying their new life in their new hometown is more fun when they find new friends and explore what the area has to offer.  

And so I repeat, “Do I have a group for you!! It’s called Estero Bay Newcomers Club.” 

You May Also Like…