The next general meeting of the Walton County Snowbirds is at 10 a.m. Jan. 24 at Destin United Methodist Church, 200 Beach Drive. Entertainment will be provided by soulful singer Sputzy, a local favorite who performs regularly at Cabana Café and other restaurants in the area.

The next registration will be from 8:30-10:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 5, at Faith Assembly Hall, 306 S. Geronimo Street in Miramar Beach. A membership fee of $10 per person buys you friendship, special offers and a chance at door prizes. Dozens of activities (most of them free to members) offer something for everyone. But even better are the new friends you’ll make here in your winter nesting place. Full information can be found at waltoncountysnowbirds.com.

The snowbirds’ annual blood drive this year will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Jan. 31. Members can sign up with Karen Moosekian at 2destinkaren@gmail.com.

Meet Our Snowbirds

A fair number of the Walton County Snowbirds are local residents, some who have always lived here and some who settled in after visiting from elsewhere. Jean Weber falls into the latter category. She grew up in Michigan, lived in Georgia for more than 20 years and moved to Destin in 1996.

“I fell in love with Destin when I came here for a week's vacation,” she said. “I knew it would be my home someday.”

She first learned about the snowbird group through a lucky accident.

“I was at Panera when Tom and Bonnie Schwichtenberg, who were then on the board, sat down behind me,” she explained. “Tom wished he had gotten some chips and I didn't want mine so I gave him my bag. They convinced me to join … even though I was a local. That ‘chance’ meeting turned into the greatest whirlwind of people, events, parties. The friendships I have formed through the past five years will last me a lifetime. I look forward to seeing everyone again in the fall. I hate to see them leave in the spring. Sharing good times, laughs, hard times, sharing it all ... that is the best thing for me.”

Jean joined in 2012, was nominated to the board that spring and was on the board until the end of last year. She has enjoyed activities with the singles group, has taken aerobics classes and has gone to crafting sessions. This year she looks forward to trying water aerobics. But she especially enjoys the Snowbird Dolphin Cruise and some of the other "mixer" events.

Her advice to potential new members? “Try it! The membership fee is about the same price as a cocktail on the harbor. Go to a class and you will meet folks who enjoy the same things you do. Come to the meetings, enjoy the entertainment and grab some of the goodies provided by our awesome vendors. If you need a smile and hug ... you'll get one.”

Dinah Keefe, from St. Paul, Minn., is the Walton County Snowbirds information officer. She can be reached at dinah_keefe@yahoo.com.