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Leawood Welcomers 

Women’s group expands membership as it celebrates 65 years of fun and friendship

As the City of Leawood celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, Leawood Welcomers is ringing in its 65th year. The group will be mentioned in a new book, Leawood: The Journey Continues Distinctive Growth from 1997-2022, by Katherine Bontrager Houlehan.

In 1958, a group of women in Leawood organized this non-profit social organization for new Leawood residents. The group welcomed new women to the city and gave them an opportunity to make new friends. 

Since then, Leawood Welcomers has evolved to include women in neighboring communities. Events and activities range from book reviews, cards/games, dining, excursions, museum tours, performance arts and more. It has a board of directors with an executive committee and chairwomen for each club. Leawood Welcomers recently installed its 60th president, Jean Wise, an attorney and former mayor of Leawood. 

“We’re looking to be more diverse,” says Laurie Luongo, publicity chair. “We amended the bylaws so members may sponsor any woman in the metro area who wants to join. We’re also now on social media and hoping to reach a younger audience.”

With 137 current members and counting, Leawood Welcomers meets regularly throughout the year, including three luncheons, two coffees/teas, and weekly or monthly events in members’ homes, clubhouses and restaurants. 

“We feature guest speakers who are esteemed women in the community,” Laurie says. “In April we featured Cheryl Shoenberg, founder and CEO of From the Ground Up Photography. Cheryl documented the build KCI project and the entire process of constructing the airport.”

Other recent speakers include Marcia McCoy, director of the Kauffman’s Women’s Health Center, who spoke on heart health and Kaite Stover, director of readers’ services for the KC Public Library, who discussed the culture of book clubs, book club etiquette and how to read with intent. 

Upcoming events include a day trip to the Holladay Bourbon Distillery, Weston, Missouri on June 9, along with various anniversary celebration events. 

“We’re donating a white bud tree and plaque to plant near city hall for Leawood’s 75th anniversary,” Laurie says. “Also, our book club is organizing a cookbook and will have a food tasting from the recipes submitted. In September, author and historian Candice Millard will share her journey as a local writer.”

For more information visit Leawood.org, leawoodwelcomers.com and @leawoodwelcomers.

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