new History Club members
GROWING MEMBERSHIP Emma Jewell (left) and Lisa Harris are excited to welcome new members from around the region to the History Club of Los Gatos in the months ahead. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

When Emma Jewell packed her bags in Buckinghamshire, England for a new life in Los Gatos, she landed in a whole new world.

She wanted to connect with the people around her, while giving back at the same time, and she decided becoming a member of the History Club of Los Gatos was as good a way to do that as any.

“I joined just to get to know people in Los Gatos better and do some charity work,” she said. “People always think it’s people sitting around reading books. It’s not.”

With this year marking a century since the History Club donated and planted a tree in Town Plaza Park, its members are excitedly making preparations for the annual tree-lighting.

On Tuesday, Town of Los Gatos staff started a tweet off with a snowflake emoji to welcome community members to what they’re calling the “Hello Winter” celebration.

“Los Gatos, we can’t wait to celebrate the winter season with you on December 1st from 5-7pm at Plaza Park!” a Town spokesperson wrote, adding “Activities include: Fisher Middle School Chamber Strings, Winter Wonderland Light Show, snow flurries, Story Walk, tree lighting at 6pm, and a visit from Santa.”

But when was the History Club started?

“1897,” is the answer said simultaneously by Jewell and her new friend Lisa Harris, on a recent afternoon at Panera Bread.

Both are History Club board members. And both are invigorated by the new direction the service group is taking.

“Emma and I have decided that we would like our club to extend our membership, and we’re trying something new this year,” Harris said. “We have put the word out that we are excited to accept new members from all over the area.”

It will be the first open house “ever,” Jewell adds.

That won’t be until Thursday, Jan. 25, from 7-9pm (at 123 Los Gatos Blvd.), but they’re already amped up for the date.

“We have some members who have been a member for over 50 years,” Jewell said. “That is not that unusual.”

It’s an intergenerational group, adds Harris.

“There’s something for everyone,” she said, referring to the mix of arts and crafts, book-reading, and volunteering that they take on. “I’ve found it rewarding and fulfilling. I’m really excited that we’re willing to expand our membership.”

In the past, the History Club has lent a helping hand to Good Karma Bikes, Cancer CARE Point and the Bill Wilson Center, among many recipients of their goodwill.

The event at Town Plaza Park will feature the Fisher Middle School Chamber Strings & Encore, a Winter Wonderland Light Show, “snow flurries,” a photobooth, a story walk and a visit from Santa. The tree-lighting is set for 6pm.

Harris says she decided to join the History Club because of a change in her life circumstances.

“For years, when our boys were in school, I have always volunteered,” she said. “My boys just went off to college and I’m looking for ways to contribute, give back to the community and make meaningful friendships.”

Jewell is looking forward to seeing what the group is able to accomplish if the membership becomes larger.

“We have finite resources with our membership,” she said. “If we double or triple our membership we can do so much more. There are so many great causes.”

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Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].



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