For me, helping out in groups was a more direct way to meet people and get to know them than just sitting in at some meetings. Of course, a newbie has to be sensitive to avoid stepping on toes on the one hand, and becoming a doormat on the other. And nobody says that you have to stick it out if you find that you just aren't a good fit with the group. Affection and intimacy take time to earn and you don't find them with everybody.
Good luck, I hope that you find what you need before long.