In October, I was out of the office for several days attending a Welcome Service International conference for people who do exactly what I do – welcome newcomers to their new home town. I bet you had no idea such an organization existed … I didn’t myself until a few years ago!
Amazing women (and a few men!) from Colorado, California, Arizona, Connecticut and all across the US met up in Milwaukee, WI to share ideas about what should go in a welcome basket, discuss how newcomers best like to be “welcomed” to a city, and find new ways to help transition people from bewildered newcomers to happy neighbors.
The three-day event was filled with business meetings, seminars and “best of the best” conversations. My favorite discussions centered on exploring new markets, expanding into relocation services, and building social media.
Of course, the most sensational conversation I had was at dinner one night. Several of the ladies chatted about their most memorable newcomer visit. A very sweet woman from Georgia talked about the day she knocked on a door, and it was opened by a man holding a tea towel … but wearing nothing else … eek! I am very thankful that all of the newcomers I have met have always been dressed.
Other than that scary tidbit, I was inspired by and in awe of the ideas I heard, and hope to implement some of them with Columbia Welcome. In 2013, I plan to create a directory of spiritual resources since so many newcomers are looking for churches, religious-based schools, and places for counseling. I also will add in more restaurants and services on the north and east sides of Columbia, since a geographically-diverse basket seems to better fit the needs of newcomers settling all around the city.
Of course, if you have any ideas for ways that Columbia Welcome could help newcomers, please let me know. I’m always looking for new ideas to put in the welcome basket, and better ways to communicate with new residents that the service is available to them – as long as they stay dressed, that is!