Though a "fifth wheel" in casual conversation may refer to someone who is tagging along or unwanted, the Fifth Wheel Club is anything but unwanted, offering charitable donations to local schools and opportunities for friendship among its members.
Theresa Salcone of Howland, a 20-year Fifth Wheel Club member, said that the Fifth Wheel Club began as a branch of the Welcome Wagon of Trumbull County, which welcomed families into the county and neighborhoods.
Holly Paisley, president of the Fifth Wheel Club and a 35-year club member, said that the Fifth Wheel Club started 53 years ago in 1960. She said that that the Welcome Wagon of Trumbull County comprised younger women and the Fifth Wheel Club comprised older women.
Fifth Wheel Club member Theresa Salcone of Howland, back row, center, is shown with students at Lincoln Elementary School in Warren. The Fifth Wheel Club has adopted Lincoln through the Adopt A School program and donates school supplies and other needed goods to the school and its students.
"Both groups, the Welcome Wagon of Trumbull County and the Fifth Wheel Club, did things in the same way," Paisley said.
"The Fifth Wheel and the Welcome Wagon of Trumbull County both had a Chinese auction every year and both were in the Adopt A School program, and the Fifth Wheel Club is still involved in these activities today. Today, as the Fifth Wheel Club, we still give to charities.
''We always bring canned goods to the Warren Family Mission, and we give to the Salvation Army and Someplace Safe. We also give school supplies to the Lincoln Elementary School in Warren," Paisley said.
''The Fifth Wheel Club is a charitable organization," Salcone said, noting that the group's members are all women, and they meet from September to June.
"We give donations to schools and whoever is in need,"?Salcone said. "If we see in the paper that someone is receiving treatment for cancer, we give to them and we support that. We also go to the Second Harvest Food Bank in Youngstown every October on Make A Difference Day. We help people unselfishly."
Paisley said that the Fifth Wheel Club belongs to the General Federation of Women's Clubs Warren City Federation of Women's Clubs.
In addition to their charitable work, the Fifth Wheel Club fosters friendships. Paisley said she has made some great friends in the Fifth Wheel Club.
"The ladies in the Fifth Wheel Club all get along, and we currently have 60 active members," Paisley said. "We have members in their 50s to their 90s. The women are social, and we love seeing each other and it's a great friendship. They laugh, they talk, and there is no bickering. We became good friends.
''It's amazing all the friends that I have made over the years. All you have to do is ask your friends to join, and that is how we get more members."
In fact, that is what brought Paisley to the club.
"My mother, Mrs. Dorothy Winchell, was a member and she joined from the beginning," Paisley said. "I remember that she wanted me to join, and that's how I got involved with the Welcome Wagon of Trumbull County and the Fifth Wheel Club.
''My husband was in the service and came out of the Navy in 1969, and we bought our house in Howland in 1973. I remember the Welcome Wagon of Trumbull County welcomed us in to Howland.
''Over the years, the ladies would get together at a different restaurant in the area for our meetings, and we would have different speakers at our meetings such as psychics, or representatives from area hospitals. For our next meeting, we are going to have Dr. Humphrey D. Germaniuk, the Trumbull County coroner, as our speaker."
Mary Bertuzzi, of Warren, first vice president of the Fifth Wheel Club, has been in the Fifth Wheel Club for 10 years. Bertuzzi recalls a fond memory of the Welcome Wagon of Trumbull County.
"I remember when I was in my early 20s in the late 1960s, I got married and moved into my first house. There was a knock at my door, and a lady from the Welcome Wagon of Trumbull County gave us a basket of milk and bread welcoming us into the neighborhood.
''The Welcome Wagon of Trumbull County would welcome people into the city or if they bought a new house, they would welcome them into the neighborhood bringing the family a basket of food and coupons," Bertuzzi said.
Years later, Bertuzzi joined the Fifth Wheel Club.
"One of my friends asked me if I wanted to join," Bertuzzi said. "She invited me to a Fifth Wheel Club meeting around Christmas time. I was still working at the time when I started in the Fifth Wheel Club. Then, when I retired, I devoted more time to it," Bertuzzi said.
The Fifth Wheel Club has been a wonderful experience for Bertuzzi, from the friendships she's made to the work that the club does on Make A Difference Day.
"I love this group and met nice women of all ages," she said. "On Make A Difference Day, we have been going to Second Harvest Food Bank. They get these huge cartons of cereal and we help them out by putting them in smaller bags with labels.
''We get friends to come with us at the Second Harvest Food Bank and usually 10 to 12 people go to help with us at this event. It's a time consuming job for the Second Harvest Food Bank and we are happy to help them out."
For Salcone, the Fifth Wheel Club is one of a kind.
"I belong to several other clubs, and I believe that the Fifth Wheel Club gives unselfishly because we give from out of our own, and we don't ask for help to help people," Salcone said.
''We give individually and collectively, and it's all within our members. I think out of all the organizations, the Fifth Wheel Club seems to work for us. It didn't hit me until two years ago, what we do have, we give," she said.