When Robin Miner heard about the potluck discussion of the book “50 Shades of Grey,” she knew Wild Boomer Women was for her.

“It seems like such a simple thing — a book discussion — but that (book title) told me this was a group with a younger mindset, or at least, they were open-minded,” she says.

Since then, Miner has floated down the Salt River in an inner tube, hosted a potluck of her own, and done happy hours with the group.

A social club for women age 45 and older, Wild Boomer Women hosts activities from biscotti baking and wine tasting to hot air ballooning and painting lessons. There are chapters in Phoenix and Sedona, and an East Valley presence is getting off the ground, thanks in part to Miner, 51, who connected with the club just three months ago.

She went solo to one of its happy hours.

“I was kind of nervous because as you get older, it is harder to meet people,” she says. “I showed up at this Mexican restaurant, and there was this little welcome booth, and I just said, ‘I’m here to meet friends,’ and they all cheered. Everyone responded.”

Sue Barenholtz, founder of Wild Boomer Women, says making newcomers feel welcome is critical.

“People walk in the door, and some have the deer-in-the-headlights look, and immediately we know: She’s here alone. That’s a big deal; it’s a hard thing to do. At our stage of the game, it’s not like when we were kids and you could just tap someone on the shoulder and say, ‘Hey, want to come over and play?’ We’re not having kids anymore, so we don’t meet other parents and become friends that way. We’re not getting new jobs where we’re meeting potential friends. We really have to do the work now.”

She began Wild Boomer Women in 2008. Today, there are more than 350 members.

The group’s Bucket List Club — which requires annual dues of $59 — provides three events per month.

There’s a happy hour, and “we have a ‘Bucket List Adventure Day,’” says Barenholtz, 56. “Last month, we went to Eloy for indoor sky diving. This month, we’re going go-kart racing. We also do a monthly how-to learning event. It might be a dance class. Once, we did a ‘learn how to use a taser’ class.”

Any member can organize additional events — such as dinner and a movie or a bicycle ride — anytime. Women pick and choose what they wish to attend.

The idea, Barenholtz says, is to connect women who have “lived enough to get to this stage where (we) just don’t care what anyone thinks of us.” She felt a need for that kind of positivity when she started the club.

“I had been married for 20 years, and I left my marriage, and I just wanted to have fun again,” Barenholtz recalls. “I realized there were a lot of people like me — not necessarily going through a divorce, but at this stage in life, when there’s so much that’s changing. We’re retiring, moving, becoming empty nesters, becoming widowed. There’s so much change that goes on at this point in our life, and girlfriends are very important. As women, they help us get through everything.”

Miner, who moved to Queen Creek from out of state, has two wonderful pals — back in California.

“You always call your friends who don’t live here, because so many of us aren’t from here. That’s your fall back, and then you end up not making connections with anyone locally,” Miner says.

Though she did meet people off and on through her job as a regional sales manager before she retired, those friendships weren’t substantive or lasting. A craving for girlfriends — and another married couple or two to hang out with — pushed her to put herself out there.

Now, she helps organize Wild Boomer Women events in the East Valley as a way to meet more people.

The club hosts one annual excursion (this year, to Italy) and one charity benefit per year. Last year, a luncheon raised $18,000 for the nonprofit Bridging the Gap Between Breast Cancer and Beauty.

Barenholtz, a former corporate trainer and consultant from Phoenix who plans to take Wild Boomer Women to a national scale in the coming months, says, “don’t go home alone and feel sorry for yourself. It’s a really easy thing to get in the habit of — to just stay home and say to yourself, ‘I don’t have anything to do or anyone to do it with.’ We’re out here, and you can make girlfriends. Challenge yourself.”

If you go

What: Wild Boomer Women is holding two East Valley meet-ups for women age 45 and older who are interested in making friends and joining social activities.

• A happy hour is 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, at Abuelo’s restaurant, 3440 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler. The cost is $5 and includes appetizers.

• An informational “Get to Know Wild Boomer Women” event is 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, at Abuelo’s. Admission is free; food and drink are available at menu price.

Information: Online registration is required for both events. If you decide to join, annual dues are $59. For information, call (602) 790-0252 or visit WildBoomerWomen.com

Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or azajac@evtrib.com

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