They call themselves the Newcomers and Friends Club, but after spending an afternoon with the energetic group of women, you’d probably say that they could just as easily call themselves the “New Opportunities” Club – opportunities to make new friends, opportunities to share hobbies, and opportunities to find new interests.
What’s more, you don’t have to be a newcomer to the area to join – any woman in the SCV who would like to become more active in her community can participate in the camaraderie for an annual fee of $30 (the new year begins in June). Prospective members are always welcome at the monthly general meetings, and may also attend the Coffee Corner meetings, which take place on the third Thursday of each month at a variety of locations.
The club is now in its 32nd year, having grown from eight members in 1985 to 190 members today. Its popularity comes from the fellowship and the chance to forge new friendships through a diverse array of activities. Clubs within the club include books, couples gourmet, Coffee Corner gatherings, water aerobics, trips, excursions, and games of all kinds – everything from Bunco to Rummikub (you might have to join to find out what that’s all about!). And new ideas for activities are always encouraged.
Trips have included a San Diego overnight on the Pacific Sands 1950 Pullman Sleeper, with a free day to explore the city attractions; a melting pot food tour of Pasadena; and the choice of one or two days at the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa.
In addition to the many smaller groups, the entire membership comes together on the second Thursday of each month for a themed lunch – in March, the program saluted the city’s upcoming Cowboy Festival. The ladies met at the American Legion Hall, enjoyed a chicken and beef lunch catered by Rattler’s, then worked off the calories by participating in some line dancing led by instructors Dave and Dana Colin. Also on the entertainment agenda was singer Erwin Jackson, who not only serenaded the group with country classics, but popular hits as well.
Special guests included American Legion Post 507 Commander Greg Nutter, who generously volunteered the use of the building for the special day; and Dave Knutson, director for the Cowboy Festival, who gave a brief rundown on the activities planned for the April 22-23 event.
More information on the Newcomers and Friends Club may be found on its website: www.ncandf.com or by calling 661-259-0666, 661-299-1834.
Side Note: The Newcomers and Friends Club began in 1985 when the local arm of Welcome Wagon, International disbanded. The handful of remaining members decided to expand the concept to include new ways of making friends and staying connected. For those unfamiliar with the original organization, here is an edited excerpt from the company website:
Welcome Wagon was founded in 1928 by Memphis, Tennessee marketing man, Thomas Briggs. Briggs was inspired by stories of early Conestoga “welcome wagons” that would meet and greet westward travelers, providing fresh food and water for the journey. He founded Welcome Wagon to recreate this same spirit of hospitality and welcome. Briggs hired “hostesses,” women who were friendly and knowledgeable about their neighborhoods, to personally deliver baskets of gifts supplied by local businesses to new homeowners. Over a cup of coffee, hostesses would tell new homebuyers about local civic and cultural activities in the community while handing out gifts and coupons from local businesses. This hostess network expanded across the country until, aside from Briggs and a handful of males, Welcome Wagon became one of the first all-woman companies in the U.S.
The home visits stopped in 1998 as an increase in two-income families meant fewer people were home to accept visits. In 2009, Craig Swill and Steve Goodman, veterans of the marketing and publishing industries, acquired Welcome Wagon and began connecting through mailboxes and the Internet.