Good things happen when folks get together over a cup of coffee.
The classical composer Bach wrote a Coffee Cantata first performed in a German coffee house. Bostonians plotted out the Boston Tea Party at the Green Dragon, a local coffee house that still serves coffee today. The American Revolution was strategized over coffee at the Merchants Coffee House in New York City. During World War II, American soldiers were fueled by Maxwell House instant coffee packed into their ration kits. And the venerable Hi Neighbor-Kingwood was created in 1974 – 45 years ago – over a cup of coffee when Anne Mattox and Sandi Jung saw a need to help their fellow homemakers who were moving into the newly founded “livable forest.”
“Anne and Sandi were committed to welcoming newcomers, helping them meet and get to know other newcomers,” said Sherran Domescik, president of Hi Neighbor-Kingwood. “So many women who were moving to Kingwood in the early 1970s were leaving established homes and familiar surroundings and were strangers in Kingwood.”
“So many women who were moving to Kingwood in the early 1970s were leaving established homes and familiar surroundings and were strangers in Kingwood.”
Hi Neighbor-Kingwood is not affiliated with any national organization but is a uniquely local, nonprofit social club that meets monthly for lunch. Their purpose, outlined on their website, is to “…get acquainted and make you feel welcome through social activities and community involvement. Whether you have just moved to Kingwood, or you’re looking for ways to meet new people, we welcome you to join and help make our community a neighborhood.”
The club consists of seven elected officers, including President Sherran Domescik, eight standing committee members, another 20 committee chairs, and are governed with bylaws first drafted in 1975. In addition to Domescik, the executive board includes First Vice President Claire Garrett, Second Vice President Tammy Holekamp, Secretary Diana Van Horn, Treasurer Debbie Campbell, Social Director Cheryl Daciek, and Parliamentarian Ruthann Koza.
Monthly luncheons, however, are just a small part of the Hi Neighbor-Kingwood agenda.
“We are 400 ladies strong, and we are very active in Lake Houston,” said Domescik. “We support Mission Northeast, FamilyTime, USO, Blue Star Moms, Project Mammogram and Kingwood Library.”
The club also has its own philanthropic group, Kingwood Heartbeat Bears, which provides cute, cuddly bears to children and elderly patients in hospitals and nursing homes who often need something special to embrace. They recently established a new group, the Bag Ladies, who make sleeping mats out of those pesky plastic bags and distribute them to the homeless.
“And this year, we are making a donation to the Houston Fire Department with the stipulation that funds go to Kingwood Fire Station 101 on Kingwood Drive,” Domescik said. “We give back to our community, so we donate locally.”
In addition to the luncheons and philanthropy, Hi Neighbor-Kingwood has more than 25 different subgroups covering a variety of activities, including a group that attends theater performances, book clubs, bridge, bunco and mahjong games, golf, tennis and movie groups. They even have a group for members from Louisiana.
The club celebrated its 45th birthday in March, honoring past presidents and focusing attention on the fact that Hi Neighbor-Kingwood is still going strong after 45 years.
“What a tribute to the continued success and longevity of Hi Neighbor-Kingwood,” said Domescik.
She’s an interior designer and owner of her own firm, Choices Interior Design, and has been a Hi Neighbor-Kingwood member for 10 years, introduced to the club by a friend who took her to her first meeting.
“I enjoyed the friendship and fellowship of the ladies I met. They’re a fun and energetic group and I especially like the idea of a club that gives back to the community,” she said. “Hi Neighbor-Kingwood helped me grow personally as a leader and, I hope, motivates others to take on leadership roles. Our members love being active in our community.”
Like so many others in Lake Houston, the club found its resolve tested in August 2017 when Hurricane Harvey paid a visit.
“We lost both of our regular lunch venues and had to scramble to find a new home that could accommodate our 400 members. We are very grateful to Walden Country Club for helping us on such short notice,” Domescik said.
As the club was losing its venue, many Hi Neighbor-Kingwood members lost everything as well.
“It was wonderful to see our Hi Neighbor ladies come together to help each other,” Domescik said. “We adopted the slogan ‘Hi Neighbor Strong.’”
Hi Neighbor-Kingwood dues are $20 a year. They meet on the second Wednesday of the month, September through May, at Walden Country Club or Raffa’s at King’s Harbor. The luncheon cost is $22 and reservations are required.
“Our name may be ‘Hi Neighbor-Kingwood’ but all ladies in Lake Houston are invited to join us,” said Domescik. “Besides Kingwood, our members come from Summerwood, Atascocita, Porter, Roman Forest, Oakhurst and Livingston. Please come join us. There’s no time limit as to how long you can belong. We have several ladies who have been members for more than 20 years.”
Unfortunately, current members have lost contact with the founders. Anyone knowing how to reach Anne Mattox or Sandi Jung can contact Sherron Domescik on the club’s Facebook page or website.
To become a member or for more information about the next Hi Neighbor Kingwood monthly luncheon, visit hineighborkingwood.com or go to their Facebook page, Facebook.com/HiNeighborKingwood.