Friends—for Different Seasons and Reasons—Make Life Better

Special to Times

Everyone knows friends make life better. The year 2022 was made better by the incorporation of a nonprofit women’s friendship group, Chestnuts Friends Over Fifty (CFOF). It was originally conceived in 2016 by residents Martha McAllister and Pat Carucci and was designed as a way for the older woman in our community to connect with others with common interests. It filled a need, and the Chestnut group grew very quickly. Today, the group has over 125 members who live in Beacon Hill, Back Bay, and other parts of Boston.

Women’s friendships form traditionally through their educational endeavors, careers, children, and pets. Each of those have a season, and as time goes by, it can be hard to connect with others, especially without a reason or a structure.  Making the leap from waving to a neighbor, to enjoying an outing together, can take months or even years. The Chestnut framework is structured to fast-track strong interpersonal connections.

Each month, CFOF has many offerings suitable for a wide variety of interests, comprising different member-run activities.. These include afternoon and evening book groups, a cooking group, a small group gathering of four-10 called “Small Spots,” and a weekly walking group. There are also groups for pickle ball, mahjong and bridge and wine tasting. Additional offerings include dinners and lunch at restaurants and special cultural events such as theater, concerts and museum exhibits. All of these are initiated and run by members. Some events are an optional “plus one,” which means that members can bring along a husband, friend or neighbor.

For some Chestnut activities, there is a philanthropic purpose. For instance, this fall the Chestnuts held a party to benefit

Birthday Wishes is an organization that provides birthday parties to homeless children.  There was also a coffee and book drive for More Than Words, a nonprofit which supports vulnerable young adults. In February 2023, a party is planned to benefit Dress for Success, an organization for empowering women to achieve economic independence. 

When asked, many Chestnut members were quick to express the value the organization holds for their lives. 

“The Chestnuts is a wonderful community within the village that offers an open exchange of ideas, interests, and activities for women over 50. The result is a dynamic community where growth, enlightenment, and friendships flourish,” said Joanne A.

“I am honored to be amongst this fabulous group of women. The Chestnuts offer a variety of social events that bring a community together,” said Paige W.

“What makes the Chestnuts thrive is its very talented, kind and invested members and leaders. They seem to love nothing more than to spread joy and goodwill to all they meet,” said Martha M.

“I’m so happy to be a Chestnuts’ member.  It’s an engaged community of like-minded women who support each other, have fun and foster friendships,”  said Ann C.

“Knowing each month that there are new activities and outings gives me something to look forward to. In addition, I enjoy these new experiences that I might not have pursued on my own,”  said Julie M.

The Chestnuts, FOF is operated by a close-knit board of directors who are also friends—Beth Sanders, Justine Laugharn, Lisa Purcell, Martha McAllister, Monica Noether, Pat Carucci, Sally Harr, and Wendy Oleksiak. Contact [email protected] to learn more about the group.

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