Let’s Go Neighbor!
For the Welcome Crew of Light Farms, neighbor isn’t just a word for whoever happens to live next door. It’s an action, a verb in fact, and one the group regularly puts into practice when welcoming new families to Light Farms. “Community is the whole spirit of where we come from. We decided this very early on, that as a group we neighbor,” shares Realtor, Blair Taylor, who serves as chairperson of the committee. “So whenever we get together we always say, let’s go neighbor!”
Which is exactly what the five members do, as they welcome new families into the community, doing what they can to make the transition of a big move easier and a little less overwhelming for their new neighbors. It is this spirit of community and friendliness that sets Light Farms apart from other nearby communities.“As far as we know we’re the only community development out here that does this, and we take pride in it,” says Gary Andrews, Treasurer and primary spokesman for the group.
The Texas Way
The Welcome Crew started by a small group of residents as a resource to help new families quickly get connected. “It’s just a group of residents who got together and said, ‘What can we do that’s special for our community?’ ” Taylor says. The members of the committee are each deeply passionate about making people feel at home. “It’s kind of like the Texas thing to do,” says Janet Jaworski, secretary for the Welcome Crew. “I’m from the Northeast, and it’s a lot different there than it is here. Texas people seem to be more welcoming, and we want this welcome to help set the tone for the community.”
Every quarter the Welcome Crew reaches out to the new families who have moved to Light Farms over the past three months. They begin their efforts by organizing and delivering welcome bags stocked with hand-picked home essentials, small items designed to make those first few weeks in a new home just a little less stressful. Also included is information and key contacts to help residents get integrated into the community, such as an invite to the Mix & Mingle (the Welcome Crew’s big event for new residents) a calendar of upcoming events and a list of all the on-site clubs at Light Farms (Book Club, Dinner Club, Tennis Club—you name it), along with helpful information to those brand new to the new area like voter registration and local library resources.
The Warmest of Welcomes
The bags come filled with curated items from the Welcome Crew, an assortment of small household essentials you likely won’t have on hand after making a big move—think hand soap, Kleenex, gift cards, some donated by local businesses and others hand chosen by the committee members themselves, then delivered by volunteers to the new resident’s homes. “The fact that you get a personal greeting, not just an email or a text or note on your door. That’s rare these days,” shares new resident Ruthanne Kenney. “Most of my friends don’t know their neighbors. It lends warmth to the whole place.”
Two weeks after the welcome bags are delivered, the Mix & Mingle takes place, the Welcome Crew’s quarterly event where new residents are invited to come meet their neighbors and connect over food and drink, with games and activities for the kids. “It sets the tone for your transition when you first move in. The event makes an amazing first impression so that residents feel more comfortable attending all future events,” says Kenney. It doesn’t take long once the event starts for families to start feeling more comfortable as they get to know their neighbors.
“When the new residents come into the event and they get their badge with their neighborhood, within an hour you’ll see them all gathered in the neighborhoods talking and interacting,” says Andrews. “We want the people who move in here to be as happy as we are and to make the transition as easy as possible. We do this because we enjoy doing it.” While the Welcome Crew share a passion for connecting new families to the community, they also appreciate that along the way they too get to know their neighbors. “I joined the Welcome Crew because I wanted to meet people.” says Jen Snyder, Volunteer Coordinator. “I knew people who lived close to me, but I wanted to meet more people, and to really get to know them and give them a sense that as neighbors, this is what we do.”
The group is always looking for volunteers to join in their mission of greeting new families with good old-fashioned Texas hospitality. A volunteer event is held quarterly where residents who are interested in helping can get connected and serve their community in this unique way. Further down the road the group hopes to leave a legacy at Light Farms and pass on the reins to residents who are ready to neighbor and make people feel right at home.