By Don Lowe
Over the past four decades, the Joplin Area Welcome Club (JAWC) has primarily focused on helping ensure that as newcomers transition to this Southwest Missouri community, their relocation is made easier and smoother than it might have been otherwise.
“Anyone who has made a move to a new area knows it is stressful and involves many changes, including finding new banks, doctors, shopping centers, etc.,” explains Monica Vaughn, who has served in several roles with JAWC and is currently first vice president of this organization. “Not knowing anyone can also be lonely.
“Having someone who has been through those same changes provided an easier way to get advice, directions, opinions, etc. That has been the goal. In fact, because we don’t have a limit on how long you can be a member, some have been around for more than 20 years and can give different perspectives and history of the area.”
While celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, Vaughn is pleased changes have been put in place so JAWC is no longer just for women and newcomers to Joplin. “With the new bylaws, we can invite people who have lived in the area a while, but until recently were working.
“We also welcome empty nesters, those who have lost a spouse or other life circumstances, as well as those who are still new to the area. We can also still provide friendship and social opportunities to those who otherwise might not know many people in the area, or who simply want to make new friends and have fun playing games with us.”
As far as expanding this club further to include men, Vaughn adds, “By including spouses, we allow them to form their own groups of interest or to join in the card games or lunches if they want to do so.”
Vaughn is thrilled with how JAWC is evolving to include so many people in different stages of life. “We look forward to attracting all ages, with new people and new ideas to move our group forward.
“That is why we decided to take advantage in celebrating our anniversary to make some changes and help keep our club active and relevant.”
Vaughn is excited about the future of JAWC and says, “I am excited to be able to invite anyone who is interested to be my guest at one of our events, even if they aren’t new to the area.
“I’ve made many friends through the club, some of whom have now moved somewhere else or passed away. I remember them fondly, but will continue playing the games, sharing the meals and enjoy great discussions with others that I’ve done for years. And, our new members will provide interesting stories and share ideas to the group. I look forward to meeting new members.”
Joplin Area Welcome Club (JAWC) Fast Facts
History: JAWC was established in 1981 by women who were previously involved with the Welcome Wagon.
Events: Monthly card games, luncheons, dice games, coffees, lunch groups and other activities.
Membership: Annual dues are $20, which helps pay for operational costs, like mailing, supplies, luncheon incidentals, as well as paying room rental fees and stipends for guest speakers or programs.
JAWC Operations: There is a board meeting each month to deal with club business, provide information for the monthly newsletter and discuss upcoming events.
Newsletter: Goes to all members either by mail or email. It includes all events scheduled for the group each month.
40th Anniversary Celebration: Wednesday, May 26 @ 1 pm/Finns Restaurant