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Newcomers club helps women find new friendships across Las Vegas Valley

It’s no secret that Las Vegas is a transient city.

The 2014 National Movers Study conducted by United Van Lines ranked Nevada the nation’s sixth-most popular destination for inbound moves. While moving to a new city is exciting, it can also be hard to make friends — unless, that is, they are a part of the Westside Newcomers Club.

“It’s difficult to meet people when you move somewhere new,” said Pam Graven, club founder. “I wanted this to be a women’s club where men weren’t invited. Men are used to having a structured workweek or honey-to-do list. Without it, they drive their women crazy.”

The nonprofit women’s social organization focuses on providing friendship and support through 40 different activities, ranging from searching for the best pizza in town to karaoke, hiking, bowling and mahjong, a Chinese tile game.

There’s also a Bucket List group that meets four times a year for different adventures throughout Nevada, such as skydiving.

Many of the club’s members end up forming what they consider to be lifelong friendships.

“You find activities that you like, and then you start gaining friends,” said Linda Egge, the club’s marketing coordinator. “The great thing about this club is that when women move to a brand-new city, they often want to know where a good hairdresser, manicurist or doctor is. We all help each other out by giving referrals.”

Members can also contribute their skills and talents and add new activities. To help members from feeling left out, the club also has a mentor committee, which helps break the ice.

“We’re all very friendly and love meeting new people,” said Georgiana Napolitano, current president.

Graven founded the club after moving to Las Vegas in 1990 and realizing it was difficult to meet new people. She held the first meeting at a private home with more than 24 members.

The club has since grown to roughly 500 members from all over the valley. At its peak, shortly before the recession, it had 1,000 members.

“We emphasize getting involved in different activities,” said Carolyn Dickinson, former president. “Meeting people is like an experiment; you have to keep trying new things.”

The club is also open to women who have recently lost their husbands or partners.

“It’s a chance to make new friends,” Dickinson said.

Men aren’t typically welcome at club meetings and activities unless it’s for a special event.

Membership is $35 a year, which includes a directory with bylaws, member contact information and a monthly newsletter, according to club vice president Sylvie Courtemarsh.

A coffee event for prospective members is held at 9:15 a.m. the first Wednesday of every month at Temple Sinai, 9001 Hillpointe Road. A luncheon with a program is planned for the second Wednesday of each month.

“I never envisioned it to become this large, but I’m glad that it’s grown because it’s something nice for our community,” Graven said.

Visit westsidenewcomersclub.org or call Sylvie Courtemarsh at 702-755-0947.

To reach North View reporter Sandy Lopez, email slopez@viewnews.com or call 702-383-4686. Find her on Twitter: @JournalismSandy.

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