- Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine
Napa Valley Welcome Club Celebrates 60 Years of Community
The Napa Valley Welcome Club is celebrating more than sixty years of giving back to, and being an active part of, the community they love so much. With six decades under their belts, there have been some changes along the way. Yet their mantra has always been the same, “Welcome!”
The club began in 1956 as the Napa Valley Welcome Wagon. Napa realtors would contact club members when someone new moved to town. The new Napa residents were welcomed with a basket filled with goodies from local merchants and coupons. Local newlyweds also received a basket with similar offerings, like a coupon for a free haircut, to help begin their lives together.
Bringing the community together has always been a part of the Napa Valley Welcome Club. In its early days, multiple activities and smaller off shoots of the group kept members busy. In addition to creating and gifting the baskets, the club offered activities to its members such as the classic card game bridge and bingo.
Arts and crafts groups followed, with an annual country fair held at the Weinberg family Christmas Tree Farm on Big Ranch Road where members sold homemade goods and wares. Being a community-based organization, the proceeds were gifted to the Sheltered Activity Center, which in those days had no other monetary assistance.
Members also enjoyed a gardening club, which won a prize every year at the Napa Town and Country Fair. There were groups that played pinochle, golf and bowling. During the Vietnam War, members organized and sent care packages of cookies and other goodies, along with letters, to the men and women in the service.
When the eighties came around, some of the members’ husbands came together to form a singing group, dubbing themselves the “Happy Hooligans.” During a fundraiser luncheon the group came in to sing and entertain the ladies, offering their serving and bar tending services as well. It was such a success that they returned for the club’s Holiday Luncheon, this time calling themselves “Santa’s Carolers.” They were such a smash it was decided that from then on husbands would always be invited to the previously ladies-only Holiday Luncheons.
In the ‘80s the club started the stuffed animal project for the Napa Police Department. Club members collected stuffed animals and presented them to local police officers so that they could keep them in their squad cars. Officers were then able to hand them out to children that needed a little extra love in trying moments. The tradition of collecting and donating stuffed animal continues today. Every February the club gives a cache of them to the Courage Center for children that have been abused.
Fashion shows have long been a club favorite. Although, they too have changed over the years. Shows used to be filled with homemade and hand-sewn garments, clothes from local shops, and even antique clothing. Now the show is still filled with club members as the models, but they are dressed in attire from shops such as Chico’s, Talbots, The Mustard Seed and others.
Although the baskets are now a thing of the past, the Napa Valley Welcome Club has remained strong in its commitment to our community. They currently hold an annual holiday party to raise money for Napa Valley Support Services. Opportunity Drawings and Live Auctions that night are filled with contributions donated from local wineries, retailers and other services. In 2017 alone, they donated $5,000 adding to the total of $34,170 raised since 2010.
When the club was larger, and had more funds to allocate, they also made donations to Samaritan House, NEWS, COPE, Hospice and the Napa County Library.
The Napa Valley Welcome Club now has 67 members, with Joanne Kelly serving as president. They meet monthly at different local restaurants and dining venues, visiting a wide variety so they can spread their business around the valley. They want to give back to the community in as many ways as they can, and are always on the lookout for spaces that can accommodate their group. Monthly meetings always include some form of entertainment, or a speaker. The goal is to keep members informed, inspired, encouraged, educated, and entertained. There are speakers on a wide variety of topics ranging from quilt making, to senior safety, to healthy cooking, to photography, to flower arranging. Speakers presented from organizations such as Jameson Animal Rescue Center, Marshall’s Bee Farm, The Pathway Home and the U.S. Air Force.
The mission statement of the Napa Valley Welcome Club is, “To involve, inspire, foster friendship and camaraderie for the good of our organization and our community.” Although many things have changed over the years, including the name of the club, that mission has remained the same. Plus, the members have a good time. Community members interested in joining, or who would like more information, are encouraged to visit NapaValleyWelcomeClub.com.
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