Judy Michaud, left, and Andrea Savitz of the Andover Service Circle. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

ANDOVER — “I became president in 2001, because I missed a meeting and they voted me in,” said Andover Service Circle President Andrea Savitz, who with Judy Michaud runs “the circle,” celebrating 50 years of service in Andover.

Michaud was there in 1974 when about 20 people met at Trudy Akers house to form the group. At one point along the way, just five people were showing up at meetings, but they rode it out and currently have 15 year-round members.

This year they will celebrate their anniversary by handing out small whoopie pies and insignia magnets at Olde Home Days in August.

On June 13 members past and present are invited to meet for a photograph, too.

Three snowbirds join the group in the summers when they return to Andover from Florida. One is Julie Merrill whose mother was Polly Johnston, also one of the founding members.

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The club is ambitious both in its fundraising and in the distribution of the monies it raises.

For 25 years the Circle members went door-to-door taking $5 orders and recording birthdays on the Community Birthday Calendar. Michaud acknowledges today’s more modern ways to connect, but back then, “people had babies and people died, so we needed to be in touch,” she said.

Andover Service Circle’s button celebrates 50 years submitted photo

Another of the club’s fundraisers was selling covered bridge butter dishes. Michaud said the historical society may still have one in their collection.

Its largest and longest running fundraisers are held on Olde Home Days each August: It collects fees from the vendors selling wares on the common; Savitz canvasses the crowd soliciting  50/50 raffle tickets and the group finds sponsors for the morning foot race managed by Jenni and Keith Smith.

All together the club raises $3,000 – $4,000 in that one day.

The money earned is used to contribute to Tricia Mills Cox’s Easter Egg Hunt, the Andover Education Fund, and the Andover Summer Concert Series. The Circle hosts a Senior and Disabled Persons Dinner in the Christian Education Building (CEB) across from Town Hall every October .

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This year it bought a $400 grill for the Andover Elementary School kitchen.

In 2023, four Andover newborns, Eloise, Fiona, Ryan and Kallie, received a quilt and a baby spoon from member Robin Lincoln, who hand stitches and delivers each quilt.

The Circle sends holiday cards to about 20 shut-ins and offers emergency assistance for people who have travel expenses when going to medical treatments. “To help with gas or meals out,” said Michaud.

It offers disaster relief, too. “It started out with fires, but we haven’t had fires in years, really. Although we did lose a whole house a few years ago and we gave an amount then,” said Michaud. The group’s 2023 Town Report noted, “”for the first time in membership’s memory, disaster assistance was provided after flooding.”

Finally, the group judges a service-themed essay for Andover high schoolers. Last year it gave the winners $500 each.

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“We came to Andover with the idea that we would be transient,” said Savitz who, with her husband, had planned to live in Peru and only visit Andover. But she changed her mind when she saw the view from Route 120.  “I had never seen anything as pretty … You’re looking over the entire valley, that is downtown Andover. I could see the spire of the church, I could see the mountains in the background,” she said.

“I did not have a sense of community in New Jersey [where they came from] like I did here. A lot of that has to do with joining Andover Service Circle,” said Savitz.

Michaud said back  in 1974 the founding members were mostly stay-at-home mothers also looking for community and “something to do.” While she is the only founding member still in the circle, she remembers Peggy (Mills) Madigan was there in the early days and Evelyn Bodemer, she said, has been vice president since 1994.

Secretary/ Treasurer Michaud has two giant notebooks of the club’s history. She said in the early years it met at Andover Public Library then at town hall.  Currently it meets in the CEB annex of the First Congregational Church, on the second Thursday of each month.

This is its credo: “We the undersigned members of the Andover Social Circle agree to provide a practical means to form enduring friendships to render altruistic service and to build a better community by helping meet the needs of people of all ages, contributing to the solution of community problems, developing by precept and example, a more intelligent, aggressive, and serviceable citizenship and giving primacy to the human and spiritual rather than material values of life.”

The group has been only women since 1974.  Said Michaud, only once did a man come  “He was new in town and said he was checking out different things around town for his wife … we never heard from him again.”

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ASC future

“Nobody really wants to take [ASC] over, As we approach 80 [years old], both Andrea and I” said Michaud.

But there is hope. A new member, Tabby (Corriveau) Hutchins,  has a kindergartner and has been in the circle for a few years.

“I am definitely the youngest one in the group, but I love the community aspect of it,” said Hutchins who didn’t know anyone when she moved to Andover with her husband Drew. His grandmother Ellen Hutchins invited her to join the ASC.

“These groups are not going to be around if we [younger people] are not taking them over,” said Hutchins, who along with Michaud and Savitz heartily encourage newcomers to join them on the second Thursday of the month.

Members of ASC past and present are asked to meet at CEB Thursday, June 13 at 5:45 p.m. for a group photo

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