For Ebony Jarvis, her family's move from Raleigh to the Lake Norman area in mid-2010 left her feeling lonely and disconnected in her new home.
"I was pretty hungry to have that connection with other women," said Jarvis, a stay-at-home mom with three children who moved to the area because of her husband's job. "I didn't want to be here (at home) by myself with the kids."
Jarvis and her family had started attending Christ Community Church Huntersville, where she signed up for a "Just Moved!" class last fall. The 10-week class provides women from the church and the community with tools and support to work through emotions and issues of moving to a new place.
Christ Community Church will host a one-day "Moving on After Moving In!" workshop from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. March 19. The workshop is a taste of the longer class, which will start in fall.
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Jarvis said the conversations at Just Moved! each week helped her think through her feelings about leaving the Raleigh area and starting over somewhere new. The group discussed questions such as "What part of you feels lost?" "Are you lonely?" and "Why are you not connected?"
"It allowed me to express what I was going through, even things that were going on in my life outside of moving," Jarvis said. When her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, Jarvis talked about it with her new friends at Just Moved!
"It was a time when I could share and say, 'I'm struggling right now,'" Jarvis said. "Some would send e-mails later and say, 'I'm just checking on you.'"
JoAnn Gardner, who is retired, moved to Denver from Michigan with her husband in 2009 for the warmer climate and to be near her sister. Within weeks, she joined the Just Moved! class at Christ church.
"It was the first real connection I made in this community," she said. "The program is so welcoming, and it encourages a lot of interaction."
Gardner and the women who sat at her table at Just Moved! each week became fast friends. Since March they have continued to meet weekly. Gardner counts them among her closest friends in the area.
The Gardners attend a Denver church now, and Gardner said she liked that Just Moved! did not pressure women to join Christ church.
She described Just Moved! as a "launching pad" that gave her courage to reach out to others and pursue other activities in the area.
Julie Tipton, a lead facilitator for Just Moved! at the church, said that in the two years the church has hosted the program, leaders have seen women become friends and take on leadership positions at Christ and other area churches.
"We had so many people who ... have said, 'We enjoyed it so much, and we feel bad when the class is over and we want to keep connecting.'"
In response, the church recently organized the monthly Connections Café, where women get together in a coffee-shop atmosphere to talk and network.
The program is now in its third year at Christ Community. This year, graduates of Just Moved!, including Jarvis, will lead the program.
For more information, visit www.ccchuntersville.com.