Five decades ago as newlyweds with sparse resources, my wife and I moved to Portland and set up house in a cozy $75-a-month, 7th-floor, downtown apartment. A few months later we got a call from a “Welcome Wagon” representative who cheerfully greeted us and asked if she could swing by to drop off some welcoming gifts courtesy of local merchants. “Sure, thanks!” was my enthusiastic response. That warm welcome, along with the freebees, left a lasting impression.
Fast forward to a 2018 BWNA board meeting, where the topic for discussion was neighborhood outreach strategy. I shared my Welcome Wagon story and suggested that a similar program might be an effective way to connect with B-W newcomers. The board said, “Fine, get the ball rolling, Al.”
So, where to start? I sought advice from a former board member who worked as a real estate agent, and she referred me to a friend at First American Title Company in the Hollywood neighborhood. First American Title graciously agreed to provide me, free of charge, with monthly lists of new property owners within the B-W boundaries. Local Windermere (Moran Homes) real estate broker Jamie Van Hoorn then volunteered to help parse the lists, sifting out developers and refinancers from the move-in residents. So, we were almost there — except for one major missing component — welcome packets. What would they look like, what would they contain, how would they be distributed?
An obvious next step was to communicate with Beaumont Business Association (BBA), which had regularly collaborated with BWNA on a variety of events, such as Taste of Beaumont, Fremont Fest, and the National Night Out picnic. The president of BBA back then was financial advisor Andy Frazier, a longtime B-W resident and BWNA supporter, and it was Andy who came up with the idea of providing a discount card good at participating BBA member businesses and organizations (over 30 to begin with). Two separate discount cards from Fremont Street businesses would later be added — one from Backyard Bird Shop, the other from Artistic Portland Gallery. Accompanying the cards were welcome letters from BWNA and BBA presidents, encouraging newcomer involvement.
Packet containers ended up simply being an envelope affixed with an attractive BWNA welcoming sticker, with board member volunteers making the in-person deliveries... until two months later when the pandemic hit, necessitating a switch to mailings. We are currently back to making house calls.
You can participate. If you’re aware of a newcomer on your block, please let me know via e-mail (email@example.com), and the same goes for local businesses you think might be interested in adding a discount card to the packet. Let me know, too, if you would be interested in delivering packets.
Big thanks to our participating businesses:
Adorn, Amalfi’s, American Chimney, Arcanna, Artistic Portland Gallery, The Arrangement, Backyard Bird Shop, Beaumont Hardware, Colleen Shea Massage, Concordia Chiropractic, Folly, Foot Traffic, Green Dog Pet Supply, Hi-Top Tavern, Honest Training, Pacific Holiday, Paperjam Press, Puddletown Games & Puzzles, Silhouette Tailoring Studio, Tomorrow’s Verse, Village Fit, and Wild Hearts Wellness.