By Miriam Clark, October-December, 1985, issue of Tar Heel Homemakers
The Extension Homemakers Council has started a Welcome Newcomers Program in rapidly growing Alexander County. With the influx of many retirees and numerous businesses bringing in management people and employees, many newcomers have arrived. How could the Extension Homemakers help them to relate to our small county, become aware of facilities available to them and the opportunities an EH Club could offer?
A Welcome Newcomer Program seemed to be the answer. In November, 1984, Public Relations chairman Mrs. Lina Correll prepared a letter explaining the proposed program. It was hand delivered to 40 merchants, inviting them to participate. A follow up was made a week later for their decision. In some instances, a third visit was necessary. Their contributions were quite varied, from simply a business card to such items as pen and pencils to gift certificates. County agencies provided their literature and one grocery chain donated their plastic bags, in which to place all materials. Of course, EH provided our materials with an invitation to join a local club and attend the area’s open meetings. The most popular item was the TELETIP pamphlet put out by N.C. Agricultural Extension Service.
In December, the Taylorsville EH Club filled the first 25 bags. The county chairman met with five Public Relations Club Chairmen and procedures were set up for visiting names that would be received through the Chamber of Commerce, schools, and local merchants, plus those newcomers who would phone the EH office themselves. Each chairman had two filled bags to keep at home. Two bags were kept at the EH offices to be picked up when needed, and all completed information was relayed to County PR Chairman Miriam Clark, who kept the records.
By September, 41 families had been visited by seven EH members. When supplies were exhausted, the chairman took a list of all newcomers visited to the merchants, from whom more gifts were needed, to ask them for additional supplies. All were amazed at how many newcomers had been moving into the county and were happy to resupply the bags.
We have found there is no other way to acquaint a newcomer to all the agencies in Alexander County. These visits have answered questions newcomers have had. Already four ladies have joined an EH Club and two have been visitors. We invite them to place their names on the monthly EH Newsletter mailing list and hope they will consider joining in the future.
Our program is entirely free. There is no money involved either from the merchants or in reimbursement of volunteers to visit though sometimes a round trip can easily be 30 miles.
With continued support and participation from all seven clubs, Alexander County Council plans to continue the Welcome Newcomers Program through 1986.