The proverb, “Birds of a feather flock together,” simply means people with similar interest get together in groups. The modern version is now known as affinity groups.
Affinity groups, by definition, are groups of people linked by a common interest or purpose. They are opportunities for like-minded people or people at similar life stages to have instant rapport. They also provide social support or philanthropic opportunities, and their purposes are noncommercial in nature.
In his 2000 bestseller, “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community,” sociologist Robert D. Putman presented his social capital theory. He argues that because Americans are not joining groups and clubs, there has been “a downfall in civic life.” There has been much debate on these issues over the years, but one undisputed fact is that the recent pandemic has isolated people.
Currently there seems to be a universal sense of loneliness. The past year has been full of soul searching and assessing one’s life inventory. Relationships have also been strengthened and weakened. As new beginnings are slowly happening, carefully re-evaluating your needs and finding friends with mutual interests is key.
Something for everyone
Since November of 1972, Susan Lemke has been part of an investment group. “I think it is so exciting to learn different market trends and pick out upcoming stocks.” Lemke says one of the biggest benefits for her is to talk to other savvy investors. She adds, “These types of groups create opportunities for women to become more knowledgeable and financially independent.”
“I find such joy in the garden,” Anne Reynolds gushes. “Daisies are my favorite flowers because they are so bright and sunny.” After many years of doing solitary gardening, Reynolds is now joining a garden club to collaborate with other “green thumbs” on different plant options and new gardening techniques. She is looking forward to getting her hands dirty with her new friends.
History, politics and the women’s suffrage movement have been empowering topics for Amy Caucutt. She is a proud member of the League of Women Voters and believes in “the power in numbers.” Caucutt shares, “I have always wanted to learn more about government and do something about those issues that I cared about.” She looks forward to discussions, lectures and activities with her fellow concerned citizens.
“Every Monday night I have had plans this past year,” Angelica Hayes says. She is part of a virtual non-denominational prayer affinity group that was recently formed. “I go to find comfort and fellowship during these difficult times. I have learned so much and enjoy all the positive encouragement.”
Rochester Women Magazine’s own Emily Watkins attributes her sense of community to Mothers & More who welcomed her when she first moved to Rochester. She and her children are still best friends with some of the group members she met in 2007.
Watkins reminisces, “I didn’t know anyone when we moved here, and that group not only provided built-in friendships, but also a chance to participate in leadership. I gained a lot of experience from my time as co-leader that has helped me in my professional life as well.”
A sense of belonging
Affinity groups help with everything from career guidance to cultural enhancement. Joining groups with shared interests can not only give you a sense of purpose, but also help you form stronger, lasting bonds.
For more information on available affinity groups or to create one of your own, check out the local links of Nextdoor.com, MeetUp.com and other civic organizations. Many groups are open to the public and are holding virtual meetings during the pandemic.