By MIKE CHAIKEN
If you’re young (and maybe not so young) and you want a chance to socialize with other Bristol people who want to socialize, there’s a new opportunity for you.
Last month, the first ever gathering of the Bristol Young Professionals Group was held. And another is planned for next Tuesday.
The organization/ group is the brainchild of Bristolite Sara O’Leary.
“I have been working with local businesses that are interested in hosting happy hours by organizing events. We have a happy hour on the second Tuesday of each month, said Sara. “I organized this group and work with others to spread the word to as many young professionals as I can.”
“The idea came about from attending Bristol Rising meetings,” said Sara in an email to The Observer. “There was a sense that there was something missing. We have so many exciting things happening downtown, but there is still a disconnect within the community. We wanted to create an event for everyone to come to that was simply social.”
Sara explained, “A lot of people are moving back home after being away at school. Some people are new to town all together. We wanted a place where anyone could come down and network, whether they wanted to just get out and meet new people beyond the walls of their office, or hang out with old friends. We created these events to help create a greater sense of community especially among the younger crowd. There are also a lot of people in Bristol who are entrepreneurs or work from home. We wanted to give them an opportunity to come interact with people they wouldn’t usually come across in their day-to-day routine.”
The city does have groups that have a similar demographic, such as the Young Professionals for United Way. That particular organization takes on community projects and volunteers for special events that are consistent with the mission of the United Way of West Central Connecticut.
However, Sara said the Bristol Young Professionals Group isn’t that kind of organization, explained Sara.
“A lot of people have been asking….’Ok, so what is it you guys do?,’” said Sara. “My answer to this is simple. We hang out, make connections, and meet new people. No strings attached. No commitment. I find that a lot of folks are drawn away from joining a lot of groups or organizations because of the commitment involved.”
That’s not to say the members of the Bristol Young Professionals Group don’t have a community spirit and can’t use their connections within the group to reach out, or that they’re discouraged from doing so.
“If members are inspired by those they meet to join forces and do things such as volunteer or put together other events they are by all means encouraged to do so,” said Sara. “But as a whole this group is just here to facilitate connections and good times. It’s a chance to break up the mundane weekly routine, get out and enjoy some food, and drink specials once a month with some local people. Simple as that. What make BYP unique is that people can drop in on any event if they can make it. Everyone is invited.”
Sara is not a newcomer to Bristol trying to shake things up. She’s someone with roots in the Mum City who wants to make her town a better place.
“I grew up in Bristol and feel connected to my hometown,” explained Sara. “I loved growing up here and I see a lot of positive things happening within the city that the younger generation will benefit from. I think having a sense of community is what keeps people connected to their city, whether it’s their hometown or just where they chose to settle down. “
Although the group calls itself a “young professionals group,” Sara said this shouldn’t be taken literally by those interested and curious about coming out to an event.
“Our demographic is anyone that would be interested in coming out and networking. The typical BYP member is probably going to be about 20 to 40 but everyone interested is encouraged to come. There are no restrictions here.”
BYP held its first gathering in December at the new restaurant downtown, Barley Vine on Main Street.
“We had a good turn out,” said Sara of the inaugural event. “There were some members of Bristol Rising who came. Others had heard about it from their friends. Some people were new to the area, heard about BYP, and wanted to come down to meet some more people in town.”
The next gathering of the Bristol Young Professionals Group is Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. at City Sports Bar and Grill on Farmington Avenue. City Sports, said Sara, wanted to bring the BYP in because they have a new menu and drink specials they want to debut.
Anyone interested in attending the gathering of the Bristol Young Professionals Group can just show up or email Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Bristol Young Professionals Group also has a Facebook page that will provide updates as they are available.
By MIKE CHAIKEN