By Gladys Smart
In 1928 William Briggs, a former newspaper man, had a vision of restoring some of the frontier day hospitality and he established Welcome Wagon, Inc. Mr. Briggs was a man of high principles and high ideals. The headquarters was established in Memphis, Tennessee and later he had offices in New York and San Francisco.
In 1948, Ruth Short was asked to establish the Welcome Wagon Service in the Reno-Sparks area and a few years later in the Las Vegas area.
The Welcome Wagon Newcomers Club's of Reno and Sparks were a Community outreach of the WW Service and offered members a unique opportunity for taking part in civic and community life as well as contributing their time and efforts to worthwhile charitable and humanitarian projects and, above all, making a host of new friends.
The Sparks Club had their first luncheon meeting March 20, 1952 (dues were $0.50) and Reno had their first luncheon on March 27, 1952 with Mrs. R. Oliver as the first President. The decorative theme carried out "launching of the new Club" and featured small boats of blue and white with red anchors and a larger boat filled with yellow daffodils. Among other activity groups established in 1955, there was a choral group of 17 members who entertained at luncheons and other civic meetings.
in 1989, during the presidency of Nancy Rumberg, Welcome Wagon Newcomers Club amended the bylaws to better meet the needs of the area. In so doing, they had to drop the Incorporated name of Welcome Wagon and became Newcomers Club. The motto established in 1999 "There are no strangers here, only friends we have not met" is very meaningful to me.
Gladys B. Smart was a Welcome Wagon Newcomers hostess from 1953-1976. She attended Welcome Wagon Newcomers meetings in early 1953 and was secretary for the service from 1953-1955. She trained in Pasadena, California and started calling on families as a hostess in 1955. Gladys, now deceased, was awarded Honorary Member of Newcomers Club for her years of distinguished service.