Moving to a new town can come with challenges; it may be difficult connecting to public groups, acquiring local business knowledge or meeting people in the community.
Megan Warrender with the Port Alberni Welcome Wagon wants to help new residents become linked in with the Alberni Valley.
Noticing a missing link in the Valley, Warrender began the Welcome Wagon program in town about a year ago.
“It’s a free greeting service for new residents,” Warrender said. “There was a piece missing, people were coming to town and they weren’t getting connected and linked in to the community.”
New residents, through Welcome Wagon, are greeted to the Alberni with a basket filled with information about the city, local businesses, services and coupons.
“I do meet and greets and sometimes I do one on ones with people but I present them with a basket,” Warrender said. “I have more than 30 local businesses that sponsor in the basket.”
Welcome Wagon is a Canada-wide service that was started in 1930 but wasn’t available in Port Alberni for 15 years prior to Warrender starting it up last March.
“Everybody’s so grateful when they receive the service but the hard part is finding who to connect with and letting people know there is a service again in Port Alberni,” Warrender said. “It’s a free service for people, there’s tons of information.”
To help spread the word, a Welcome to Port Alberni Spring Fair will be held at the Best Western Barclay Hotel on Sunday, March 26 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Local service groups, volunteer groups, businesses and vendors will have booths set up. The fair is open to anyone but Warrender’s vision is to target new residents who maybe haven’t been linked into the community quite yet.
“I love connecting with people,” Warrender said.
Beginning on April 1, the Alberni Welcome Wagon will have an office space at the Chamber of Commerce/ Visitor Centre and will be open every Friday.
To learn more or to connect with the Welcome Wagon service, visit them on Facebook at facebook.com/welcomewagonpa.