The Friendship Rose, an American Rose Society registrant, was adopted by RCNF in 1988 to symbolize the friendship offered to new residents in our community.

OUR MISSION STATEMENT

Rockwall County Newcomers & Friends is a social organization for women who are residents of Rockwall County. Our organization is dedicated to bringing new and creative ideas to our members through our monthly programs and events, as well as establishing a high quality framework of friendship throughout our organization. Because women are inherently "social" as well as productive, we utilized those two specific attributes to guide us in creating a successful organization that has been in existence since 1977. Our goal and purpose is to support you, the women of Rockwall County - that's how we began and therein lies our future.

 

MEET OUR PRESIDENT

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President Karen Hallmark

Karen was born in downtown Manhattan, a few blocks from where the World Trade Center stood. Her family moved to Kingston, NY when she was four years old. Karen is one of four children --- two girls and two boys. Her older brother was born with severe asthma, and at doctor's orders, the family moved to a warmer climate, Phoenix, AZ. Imagine, a family of six piled in a Studebaker, heading west! Karen's mom was so brave -- just packed up the family, without a doubt in the world that the parents would find jobs when they got there --and they did!!! Karen is still amazed at their tenacity. Karen relates that living in Arizona gave her some of her best and worse of times. She loved growing into a teenager there. Unfortunately, the lack of advanced treatment for asthmatics was unavailable at the time, and they lost her brother at age 16.

Karen met her future husband, Jon, in 1981. They eventually married and lived in the heart of Silicon Valley. They reared a son and daughter (with two beautiful grandchildren to eventually follow). Both Jon and Karen worked at LTX Credence (eventually renamed as Xcerra). The company transferred Karen and Jon to Richardson, TX in 2001. Karen says she immediately fell in love with Texas. Most of all, she loves the kindness that people show. The southern charm and polite gestures she receives every day may range from a wave from someone she doesn't even know, or a polite 'how may I help you,' or even that wonderful southern phrase, "Hi, y'all!!" It means so much.

Karen's daughter moved to Texas and bought a home in Rockwall in 2012. Karen had been retired a year and truly did not anticipate how "lost" she would be without a daily routine. She needed people with whom to interact! A neighbor her daughter knew invited Karen to a Newcomers luncheon, and she immediately fell in love with our wonderful group of ladies!

If she has any spare time, Karen enjoys fishing, reading, walking her dog, and swimming. Most of all, she loves new challenges. Karen feels that her new role as President will be one of the most fun and interesting challenges she will have, and looks forward to the many new people she is going to meet. Welcome aboard, Karen!

 

AND HER 2018 - 2019 OFFICERS

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(Left to right) Rhea Heskett - Second Vice President/Membership; Dana Almquist - Secretary; Paula Murray - Treasurer; Kerstin Martin - First Vice President/Programs; and Karen Hallmark - President.

 

FOUNDING MEMBER SHEILA LOEFFLER FLANNERY

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Do you wonder how the Rockwall County Newcomers & Friends organization came into existence? We went straight to one of its founding members, Sheila Loeffler Flannery, and here is what she graciously shared through an interview with Milly Cundy, Webmaster.

In 1974, Sheila moved from North Dallas to the Rockwall community. Prior to the move, Sheila had always enjoyed a Newcomers club as a good way of meeting people. Sheila was very much a "people person" not only through her real estate career, but also belonging to many social and charitable organizations - and with the latest move, she was missing the fun and energies of those organizations! In her desire to become a part of the new community to which she now belonged, Sheila began inquiring about organizations in the Rockwall area. In addition, many of Sheila's real estate clients new to the area were looking for the same community involvement! What she found and much to Sheila's dismay was that, at the time, Rockwall only offered organizations for women either by invitation only, charity based (worthy, but time-demanding), or those that required special background or skill.

Now that little problem would stymie some people, but not our Sheila! She began talking with her friend and fellow real estate agent, Glo Dodd, about the need for a "newcomers" club for their real estate clients and any other women new to the community. Interestingly, the more women with whom they shared their ideas, the more support they received - and they were soon "off and running" with their Newcomers organization in 1977. They started having monthly meetings in members' homes (just coffee), elected officers, wrote the bylaws (our "rules of the road"), and created activities. It was decided from its inception, that the main purpose of the organization would be MAKING FRIENDS, and the only requirement would be that members were to be women residents of Rockwall County. Also, there would be no endorsement nor discrimination allowed in the organization (no selling, no badges, no brochures, no samples, no politics nor religion, etc.) Also, the organizers felt it important to have a strong presence in the community - providing information to new members regarding churches, businesses, banks, charities, political groups, and other contacts for which they might inquire. IT WORKED!!!

And when Sheila married Bill Flannery in 1990, Bill enjoyed the couples events offered through the organization, also. In early 2015, the club that was eventually named Rockwall County Newcomers & Friends welcomed our 200th member, and has added 30+ members since that time! We have a wonderful group of women sharing in great friendships -- it's the best $25 in yearly dues ever spent! We have a website, a newsletter, monthly luncheons, socials, and more activities (approximately 40) than some of us can keep up with - your calendar can be filled with a fun activity each day, if you like!

We will be forever in debt to charter member Sheila Loeffler Flannery and her friends for giving us Rockwall County Newcomers & Friends. To our Board of Trustees, Executive Board, and all of the other wonderful members who work so hard on a daily basis to keep everything running so smoothly - we thank you so much. But most of all, we appreciate that through the years, you have kept Sheila's original concept and spirit - MAKING FRIENDS. As Lois L. Kaufman said, "Plant a seed of friendship, reap a bouquet of happiness." Or as another member so aptly put it --- Rockwall County Newcomers & Friends is the best game in town!!!

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