On a recent weekend, I told my tween daughters we were going on an adventure. They were mildly interested. I told them there were cookies involved and then shockingly, they were in. We loaded up the car with our deliveries and headed out. "What's a welcome wagon?" asked one. "We are," I said.
The "Welcome Wagon Lady." That's me. And yes, it sounds old-fashioned because it is. Welcome Wagon, Inc. was started in 1928 in Memphis by Thomas Briggs.
The website says, "He created Welcome Wagon to embody this same spirit of warm hospitality and welcome. He hired "hostesses," women who were friendly and knowledgeable about their neighborhood, to personally deliver baskets of gifts supplied by local businesses to new homeowners."
Hostesses connected with 85 million households and hung on until 1998 when the company transitioned to sending snail mail welcome letters. You can guess what happened next. Now I'm no luddite but there are times when the 21st century, electronic way just doesn't deliver. But two tweens and their welcome wagon lady mom do.
Word got out to the neighbors that the HOA was putting together welcome bags for new people. One neighbor gave me coupons from his restaurant, Colore Italian Restaurant. Another neighbor baked chocolate chip cookies that were pretty spectacular. And the country club that the neighborhood wraps around donated sleeves of golf balls and hats. Everyone got a little plant and a lovely note from our HOA president, Margaret. Not bad, right. I put it all together and off we went.
In this day and age, a knock on the door is a relatively unfamiliar sound. The UPS guy notwithstanding, a stranger standing at your door is a bit of a head scratcher. Do you open it or hide in the bathroom and hope they leave?! Or pretend you're on the phone and politely shoo them away?! Thankfully all the doors opened and we met the family that moved from Chicago, the family relocating from nearby Littleton, the folks who moved in across the street (they came from Texas), and others.
The HOA generally gets a bad rap. It doesn't have to. It can and should be more about making cookies for a stranger and welcome bags. I'm not sure about being called a Hostess it makes me think of Twinkies but embodying a spirit of warm hospitality and welcome ...I'm down with that for sure. After all our deliveries were done, my girl said, "I liked being the welcome wagon lady, do we get to do it again?"
"We do," I said. (Psst ...There's a house for sale just around the corner).
For more tips on improving resident experience in your community, download your copy of our six-step guide!