Gwen, Santa Ray, & Collette
Gwen Pradere is the founder and Executive Director of Friends to All, Inc., a Nevada 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Corporation.
In 1999 Gwen joined Carson City Santa Ray Smith in visits to elderly residents of a nursing home. The visit from Santa brought so much joy and cheer, she wanted to continue the event annually. She aspired to expand it to reach more seniors living in town with little or no family nearby and many with limited resources. It began with a small group of volunteers and has grown to over 50 volunteers, creating around 15 teams of Santa’s and Helper’s. The organization visits over 200 seniors every year, providing a photo with Santa and gifts made possible through donations provided by the community.
Gwen has lived in Carson City since 1994 coming from Riverside, California. Her background includes sales and marketing for a regional shopping center in Southern California, human resources, and office management in the construction and architectural fields. This background gave her the foundation to start her own business in 1998, a corporate formation business.
In addition to Friends to All, Gwen was on the organizing board of the Downtown Carson City Business District Association and served on the Board of Trustees of the Northern Nevada Railway Foundation.
Her vision for the future of Friends to All would be to bring friendship, joy, and support to seniors throughout the year as well as during the Christmas holiday season. And always, touching hearts with a visit!
Collette started volunteering for Friends to All in 2011 and has been with the group since that time, sun or snow delivering gifts to Carson City Seniors.
“I remember fondly growing up in Carson City, where my mother would “adopt” a senior who didn’t have family nearby. We would visit them weekly, take them shopping and just generally watch out for them. When I grew up and had children of my own, they were tasked with caring for our elderly neighbors by mowing their lawns, walking their dogs and just visiting. Both of my children, to this day help out seniors in their neighborhoods. So, it was a natural step for me to volunteer for Friends to All and I truly enjoy the visits.”
Jenny & Santa visiting one of our seniors
Jenny Haas has been a devoted supporter of the Friends to All program since 2004 after reading a small article in the paper asking for donations and volunteers. Jenny now serves on the Board of Directors of Friends to All and represents the organization in the community.
“Compassion is my super-power, having worn my heart on my sleeve my entire life. I love this program. The joy of a simple visit and the smile it brings to our homebound seniors is priceless. That is a gift to me!”
Gwen, Riley, Sarah, Henry, & Eric on Santa Visit Day
Sarah Scholander is one of the founding members of Friends To All. Sarah was in high school when her mom, Gwen, was just beginning organization of the Santa visits. She served as a volunteer for visits as well as assisting in the organization and planning of each year’s event.
Since that time, Sarah married Eric who proudly serves our country in the United States Navy. Together they have two beautiful children, Henry & Riley and just last year the family relocated to Virginia due to Eric’s service. The entire family has participated in our annual Santa Visits over the years.
Sarah continues to provide volunteer services to Friends To All by creating flyers, promotional materials, and updates to the website and Facebook pages. She also edited and assisted in the creation of an informational video describing the program. Sarah is on the Board of Directors of the organization and continues to play a most important role in our annual visits.
Kathy with her team, Santa Brian & Susie
Kathy has been a member of FTA for over 15 yrs and serves on the Board of Directors. She’s an active volunteer in the community as a 20 yr Lions Club member, on the operating crew at the NSRRM, Ghost Walk tour guide and CCChamber member for 20 yrs. Coming from a pioneer Nevada family, Kathy learned early to appreciate the valuable contribution that our elders have made to our lives and that they are to be remembered and thanked. She also believes that there’s a little kid in all of us at Christmas.
Kevin & Linda are two of our long time volunteers
Linda retired from New York Life Ins. Co. in Frisco, Texas in August 2011, after a 23-year career working for executive management. She and her husband moved to Carson City that September to care for her father and mother. Linda knew about the Friends to All program prior to moving because FTA Founder Gwen Pradere had been a family friend for years, and FTA Santa Teams had visited Linda’s parents several times.
Linda became a member of FTA in 2012 and has served as a Santa helper for several years, which she thoroughly enjoys. She became an FTA board member in 2021 and is using her years of experience as a project manager, office manager and administrative assistant/supervisor to help with the organization and preparation needed for successful Santa visits. She thoroughly enjoys her role for FTA and even enjoys being teased for being a little over the top with details.
On a personal note, Linda’s father thought of Gwen as a daughter. After Linda’s mother was placed in an assisted living facility, Gwen willingly helped do all the things he was no longer able to do for himself for which the family is eternally grateful. Linda’s father passed away in December 2011 with Gwen and Linda by his side.