The Newcomers Club of Fort Wayne was founded in 1937 by Marie Kane, a member of the Civic Activities Association. Employed by this organization, Ms. Kane welcomed new residents to the city, leaving them with a booklet filled with coupons from local merchants hoping to capture sales and services required by new homeowners. Marie was known as the unofficial hostess for the city of Fort Wayne.
Ms. Kane became aware that many newcomers were at a loss socially in their new community. As a result, she invited 20 women, all strangers to one another, to a bridge luncheon at her home. These 20 women enthusiastically agreed to organize as the "newcomers club." That luncheon was the first of many teas, cocktail parties, luncheons and board meetings. The group grew quickly, doubling its membership in the first year. In May, 1938 the "hospitality committee" was born. It was established that a personal call would be made to each new resident of Fort Wayne to explain the purpose of the club and the opportunity it offered. In June 1938 the constitution of the Newcomers Club of Fort Wayne was drawn up. It stated the motto: For Others - The Bridge to Friendship; the object: the development of fellowship and acquaintance among new residents of Fort Wayne and their assimilation into the citizenship and social activities of their new community.
Being sensitive to the needs of each newcomer, hobby groups were developed in August of 1938. Swimming at the YMCA, a bridge group and a book club were the first groups formed. The opportunities afforded in the smaller hobby groups to make close acquaintances became very clear as the Club increased in size. New hobby groups formed whenever new interests surfaced. Even today, the hobby groups continue to change with the shifting interests of the membership and times. Many immigrants to Fort Wayne who joined the Newcomers Club successfully established The International Club under the Newcomers banner.
In 1939, a letter of farewell was written to the charter members who had been members of the club the prescribed two years, as stipulated by the constitution. Marie Kane, a perceptive woman of great insight, realized that the Club always needed space in each hobby group for new members. She firmly believed that within 2 years a family should be fully integrated in the community, thereby leaving available space for new Newcomers!
By 1986 the Club was so successful that membership had grown to 350 couples. Not wanting to sever the ties of friendship, but still needing to limit the membership to a reasonable number for luncheons and hobby groups, it was decided to divide the group, spawning the birth of the sister club, Encore. Encore receives Newcomer members after 4 full years of membership in Newcomers. During this time period, Newcomers may hold dual membership in both organizations. After the 5th year, members become full members of Encore, enabling the Newcomers Club to always have space to welcome Fort Wayne's newest residents.
Keeping all activities social, with business conducted only by board members, has been one factor in the Club's success. Warm personal touches, such as the holding each month of a small, informal coffee for prospective members and the meeting of hobby groups in members' homes, has also generated a feeling of caring and hospitality for each member. As administrative problems arise, adjustments are made. In December of 1954, the Newcomers Club of Fort Wayne became incorporated as a non-profit organization. Each year the board reviews the needs of the Club and many changes have been necessitated over the years. In recent years, a monthly newsletter is produced and sent to each member to keep each member abreast of Club events. An annual directory is also published each summer and distributed at the annual Hobby Luncheon in September. In 2004, the board voted and executed the launch of a new logo for the Club and the first Newcomer website. As the Club changes and grows, the board diligently and capably makes changes in the best interests of all club members.
In July, 1974, Marie Kane died, active and committed to Newcomers even from her hospital bed. She leaves behind a legacy of which we can all be proud to be a part. For 37 years, Marie Kane was hostess to thousands of new residents, making them feel welcome, helping them to become assimilated, and giving them the opportunity to become part of the Fort Wayne community. Each Newcomer member promotes the legacy with each welcoming smile and handshake offered to each prospective member.