In May 2008, Sue Barenholtz was ready to start a new chapter in her life: She wanted to go back to the exciting days of friends, socializing and fun—but she needed some friends to help her make that happen. In Phoenix, Barenholtz created a group called Wild Boomer Women, a community that holds events and activities for women older than the age of 40. Today, there are more than 700 members in Wild Boomer Women—and the Tucson chapter recently became the fourth of many chapters that Barenholtz hopes to create. Membership costs vary, from $12.95 per month to $99 per year. For more information, visit wildboomerwomen.com.
How did you come up with the idea for Wild Boomer Women?
We are the first generation of women that really went to work, and have been doing that most of our adult lives. I started the group in Phoenix in May 2008. I had left my marriage and was looking for new girlfriends to have fun with. I wanted to go back to my '70s days, and I had an idea that other baby-boomer-age women would like to do that as well. Within four days of posting the group online, I had more than 100 members.
What is the ultimate goal of Wild Boomer Women?
To show baby-boomer women how to have fun and make time for themselves. We create an environment where women learn to allow themselves to have fun, put themselves first, make new girlfriends instantly and do the things they haven't taken time (to do).
Are there certain locations that are more successful?
The first group that was started, in Phoenix, has more than 400 members today and is continuously growing. In 2009, I moved to Sedona and started a group. There are currently 130 members. Last month, we opened a group in Prescott, which is still growing. Tucson (had) the largest first event yet. I don't think it is more successful in one area over another. The larger metropolitan areas have more to choose from, so it is easier to get greater numbers.
Why did you decide to make Tucson the next place to found a chapter?
Tucson was always a major goal, because it is the second major city in the state. I just needed the support in Tucson before I could make anything happen there. Luckily, I had a good friend to help me start it. I think what is going to end up happening is that one or two other chapters may branch out in the Tucson area, because the city is so big.
Where do you plan to go next in your expansion?
We are going to open a group in Flagstaff, and then we hope to do an East Valley and West Valley chapter in Phoenix. I hope to end up with 10 different chapters in the state before continuing out of state. Eventually, there will be Wild Boomer Women chapters around the country, and then around the world.
What are some of the activities in which the group participates?
Everything and anything. In the past, we have done tubing down the Salt River, pole-dancing classes, makeup lessons and dinner parties. The grand-opening parties have been fabulous, and people have started doing monthly dinner clubs at different restaurants. We go out and listen to music, and go dancing. ... Anyone can post events at any time.
How do you see the future of this group?
Currently, we are working on our new, more-interactive website, which will have a social-networking component only for members, where you can chat with other Wild Boomer Women around the country. We are working on creating a radio show called Wild Boomer Women Radio. Also, (we're planning) an annual comedy show and fundraiser, weekend trips to places like Las Vegas and Sonoma, and an annual cruise. Next year, we plan to do a trip to France in addition to an annual retreat where all the chapters come together. The biggest thing is that we want women to create a bucket list, and start living it.
What do you hope group members will take away from their experiences and membership in this club?
Women need their girlfriends, and I hope that more than anything, they can take away knowing that they are not alone. As we get into this next phase of our lives, things change. We just want people to have a support system and have fun. It's about learning to take care of yourself, too.