The Kentlands Socialites Build and Serve Community

Photo | Submitted Sheena Saydam, The Kentlands Socialites founder, displays more than $600 raised by the group at a recent bake sale to benefit The Tree House Child Advocacy Center of Montgomery County.

Photo | Submitted
Sheena Saydam, The Kentlands Socialites founder, displays more than $600 raised by the group at a recent bake sale to benefit The Tree House Child Advocacy Center of Montgomery County.

Building community comes in many forms. In today’s world, social media’s electronic highway offers a platform to meld mutual interests, expand resources and serve the community at large. Meet The Kentlands Socialites—a women’s social group that hit cyberspace two years ago to “bring together women in and around Kentlands to forge new friendships, try new things, have fun and give back to our awesome community,” states the group’s Facebook page. The group is open to women throughout Montgomery County.

Bravo TV might want to tune-in. Kentlands resident Sheena Saydam, a managing partner of Saydam Properties Group, is the founder and “excited instigator” of the group. She playfully titles herself a “Real Housewife of Kentlands.” She said she was inspired to start the group because her real estate team conducts a considerable amount of business in Montgomery County. “I wanted to figure out a way that I could stay in touch and continue to provide value to our clients who often turn into friends,” explained Saydam. “I added some friends as well and from there it just grew!” Currently, 400 women are members.

Why women only? Saydam said creating a place where women feel at ease and are encouraged to have some fun was key to building the foundation for the group, “especially parents who give so selflessly all week. I love getting the ladies out for drinks, movies or in for a fire pit and wine night,” she said. In addition to ladies’ nights, the group plans fun events such as water balloon fights for kids, kickball, and recently an evening running group was formed.

Melissa Grossman, senior operations manager for MUFG Investor Services, moved to Kentlands three years ago from Severn, Maryland. “I didn’t have many friends in the area to help me connect now that I’m recently a mom, so one of my friends I made has a similar situation and definitely helped me transition to motherhood and everything else, and Sheena has become one of my dearest friends,” noted Grossman. She said the group is “very inclusive of every woman regardless of age, race, anything. … It’s just a very collaborative group of women that are able to get together outside of the home and just kind of catch up and also do service work for our community.”

The Tree House Child Advocacy Center of Montgomery County “dedicated to reducing trauma and promoting healing for child victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect” is one of The Kentlands Socialites’ designated charities. “We support The Tree House in many ways through pajama drives and fulfilling calls for emergency items like baby formula, clothing, soap, etcetera,” said Saydam. A two-hour bake sale run by Kentlands kids raised $600 for The Tree House.

Last winter The Kentlands Socialites made “Blessing Bags” for the homeless in Baltimore. “With the community’s help, we put together over 300 bags of toiletries, socks, gloves and other items for the homeless. It was incredible. I’d love to get us more involved for the troops and their families,” noted Saydam.

Kentlands resident Rennie Dyball, a freelance writer, editor and former senior editor for People Magazine, joined the group predominately for recommendations for preschools, doctors and “everything you need being a young mom in a new neighborhood. … It’s been very valuable for me coming to the area with one child and now having two and being very limited on time. I have found the women to be really helpful, and I’ve become friendly with some through the group. It’s been a very good way to know what’s going on in the community, and it’s good that they really make an effort to get people together,” she said.

Jen Cole, an industrial and operations engineer who has lived in Kentlands for two-and-a-half years, said friends encouraged her to join the group. “What I found was a wonderful group of women who care about having a positive influence on the community we live in and like to have fun. … There’s something for everyone.”

“Socialite” conjures images of high-profile, wealthy members of the privileged classes who have a zest for the social scene. “The first impression is this is a group of women who are out and about and knew places to go, whether it’s shopping, restaurants, bars, what have you. I don’t actually get that feeling from the group. It feels more down to earth than the term ‘socialite’ feels to me, but I think that’s a good thing. … It’s a cute name, but it happens to be a down-to-earth group,” observed Dyball.

“I think that every community should have one. It really helps with networking and just bringing women together. It’s always tough, especially these days being a mom with all the judgment and everything else. … It’s just nice to have a group to go to that’s no judgment and working together toward one common goal, whether it be social or just getting active in the community,” said Grossman.

Saydam shared, “I was raised in the Army where we moved 10 times before I got to high school, and yet I always felt like we had a network of families who supported each other. I think that women in Montgomery County have so much to give and share and this space gives them an opportunity to give back, support each other and have fun.”

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