In addition to being your Chamber Executive Director for 15 years, I have also had the Community Hospitality business (aka Welcome Wagon) for six years now. It’s been around for about thirty years, the majority of which was run by Barb Grant, who retired and sold the business to me. It was known as Welcome Wagon back them, but when it became franchised and strictly run by email, Barb struck out on her own and renamed it Community Hospitality.
How it works: the first of each month I get a list of new residents from City Hall. I then Google them to weed out those who are not new to Kearney, and pay a personal visit to those who are new to our town. I have a basket full of gifts and coupons from our businesses. I give a brief presentation of each business – their location, a bit about the owner and perhaps a short personal experience story. I am very proud of my basket and all the businesses in it. It’s very well-rounded, with gifts and coupons from our shops, as well as doctors, banks, insurance agents….all the things you want to know about when you move to a new area. I also ask them if I’ve covered everything, or if there is something they are looking for that isn’t in my basket.
What makes this job interesting is the question I ask them – “what brought you to Kearney?” Most often it’s because of the schools, or the wish to be closer to family. However, sometimes it’s an extraordinary reason that brings them here. There have been a few times I’ve returned to my car and just cried. I’ve also dried a few tears of the people I have met. We’ve often shared lots of laughs, and some have become friends from that point forward. What I’ve learned doing this is that everyone has a story. It’s a humbling and rewarding experience and once again I am lucky to say I have a job I love!
If you are interested in having your business in my basket, I hope you’ll contact me!