British and Expat Families of Katy enjoyed a very special evening at Willowfork Country Club on June 8 in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, marking 60 years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II over Great Britain. Over 120 guests were invited to enjoy traditional British food like bangers ’n’ mash and fish ’n’ chips, along with a royal quiz similar to the typical format of a British pub quiz and entertainment by local British DJ Evelyn Borthwick, who provided a 1970s and 1980s disco.
The event included authentic touches like hand-picked British goodies arranged into baskets for raffle prizes, some carefully wrapped and brought back in hand luggage from the United Kingdom; homemade gravy cooked by one of the group’s organizers and delivered to the club earlier that day; Union Jack bunting (decorative flag garlands) air-mailed to an expat family in Katy by relatives in the United Kingdom; and custom-ordered cakes displaying photographic images of Buckingham Palace and Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty and two royal corgies, resplendent and bejeweled, were standing on display at the top of the staircase as if poised to greet and welcome arriving guests. Every table bore the title and photograph of a royal property surrounded by candles, confetti, and balloons.
The British and Expat Families of Katy meet-up group is one of several local social groups set up to support the needs of an ever-increasing expat population drawn to Katy because of its excellent school district, proximity to the Energy Corridor, and commutability to Houston. The group provides a home away from home and welcome landing pad for expat newcomers to Katy. The group currently includes over 80 members, who reside in Katy or neighboring western suburbs of Houston.
The group started small in October 2008, with three women who had a personal wish to meet like-minded friends who had lived abroad and had something in common. Then, they grew to something bigger and decided to stretch beyond the small group of friends they had become and serve the needs of the wider expat community, opening the door to anyone in need of a warm welcome and helping hand. The group rotates the lead organizer role and team every 12 months to avoid becoming cliquey and invites new volunteers to join.
Members host regular meet-ups during the month, such as a book club, play group, coffee mornings, lunches, and family outings as well as occasional get-togethers that have become annual events like the Pub Quiz, the Grand National, Cinco de Mayo, and a Christmas lunch. They sponsor a family in Zimbabwe who is connected to one of their organizers, helping them to educate their children, and they support the not-for-profit Kosmos Coffee Shop by hosting coffee there every Tuesday.
The group enjoys overlap with other local expat groups such as Katy Coffee, line dancing, and Wednesday Coffee, and part of what members do is to make sure new members have the opportunity to become part of these other groups and spread the net. The group has encountered many pleasant reunions with old school friends, distant relatives, and old neighbors turning up in the Katy area every month.
The British and Expat Families group feels so fortunate to be in Katy, surrounded by warm Texan hospitality and enjoying the Texan way of life, from rodeos and football games to barbecues and pool parties. It is hard for even the most resistant amongst the group not to be won over by year-round sunshine, spacious and beautiful homes, sparkling pools in the neighborhood, plenty of free time to enjoy a good social life, and extensive activities for children. But being an expat comes with a price; group members leave their families, friends, and country behind; help their teenage children overcome the emotional, cultural, and academic hurdles of changing school and countries; and sometimes end up feeling that whilst they can fit in anywhere, they belong nowhere. Vacation funds are depleted by trips back home, and important occasions like weddings, birthdays, and graduations are often missed. Skype and Facetime become their best friends.
That is where the British and Expat Families group comes in, offering support to members through tough times together and enjoying the good times! To learn more, visit www.meetup.com/british-and-expat-moms-of-katy.