Alameda Social Club makes connections
By Diana Ariza Klose
The two couples who created the Alameda Social Club a year ago Christmas Day say they’re big dreamers. They’d like to do all kinds of events, from “grassroots family picnics to grandiose black tie galas.”
So far, the club – which was set up to strengthen Alameda’s social networks, support businesses and “celebrate the art of living well” on the Island – has hosted four events at local restaurants which have drawn a range of residents, from single people in their early 20s to longtime Alamedans in their 80s.
“The idea was composed of three main goals: foster new friendships, enhance the community by supporting local businesses and creating local networks, and celebrate the art of living well in this very special Island,” co-founder Rusti Porter said.
The club’s founders – Sanford Marshall and his wife, Megan Wood Marshall, Porter and her husband, Martin Geraghty – came up with the idea over many evenings and weekends the friends spent together. Often, they talked about Alameda being a unique place with an interesting mix of people and cultures. But they also felt the Island needed more social opportunities for people here to meet and mingle. So the Alameda Social Club was born.
The Marshalls moved to Alameda in 2004 after living in San Francisco, where he made his bones as an event planner, and then San Lorenzo. (Sanford Marshall launched his own business and brand, SanMan Productions and The Wedding Coach, in 2006.) They invited Porter and Geraghty to check out this city they had never heard of before a little over a year later, and after reluctantly accepting, the couple immediately fell in love with Alameda, bought a house here and moved in. (Originally from Tennessee and Ohio, Porter says you will recognize her house when you see the big Ohio state flag.)
Each of the club’s founders brings professional experience into the mix: Sanford Marshall is an event planner, while Porter handles marketing and public relations and Geraghty describes himself as a “lifelong alcohol salesman” (he wears an “Enabler” sweatshirt to our interview). Porter, who owns a consulting firm specializing in brand development with her husband describes Megan Wood Marshall as “the backbone that keeps us organized.”
The club held its first event last spring – a wine tasting event at Pappo – followed by a summer celebration at BarCeluna, and more recently a joint celebration of the culinary and fashion worlds at C’era Una Volta. The group hosted a holiday celebration at BarCeluna earlier this month.
In addition to providing networking opportunities for residents and business owners – the group brought together a dozen business owners to put on its fashion show and culinary event at C’era Una Volta – all of the events also served as fundraisers for different charitable or community organizations, including the Alameda Food Bank and Girls Inc. of the Island City.