My husband and I had been in this house for about 2 years and my husband was constantly gone and yeah, we met a neighbor here and there but you know, it was always right before they would PCS.
I thought to myself, there has to be another way!
When we first got to base, we always thought welcome baskets would be a great idea but unfortunately at the time we didn’t have the budget for it. It always stayed close to our hearts and became a business bucket list goal of ours to bring neighbors together, the old school way.
When I say old school, I mean a basket filled with items and a note saying “welcome” and a knock on the new neighbors’ door. Excitingly, Armed Forces Insurance saw our vision and together we launched the program, “Welcome Here” love baskets. Our baskets are nothing crazy; our formula is just something for the home, something from our home (baked), a cute bag or basket to put it in and a smile. Price per basket at the dollar store is maybe 5 dollars and what we’ve witnessed in such a short time has surpassed our wildest dreams, especially at this rate.
It started in our neighborhood, but it has now spread all over base and Camp Pendleton is a huge base for those who are not familiar with it. This is how it works: you go to our website and nominate your neighbor! While this is only at Camp Pendleton at this point, we look to expand this program across the country. Not EVERYONE is comfortable with knocking on the door so our volunteers simply say, “Hi there! Your neighbors nominated you to say welcome to the neighborhood!” You will see their surprise, their appreciation, and their guard go down. They then feel comfortable to talk to the volunteers and open up to neighbors around them. Shoot, we even have a new neighbor spy that checks in daily with me for fun when she walks her dog to nominate new people!
I am not saying that this is in everyone’s budget and I do stretch ours since the demand has been so high but I am saying head to the dollar store and grab one or two things for a new neighbor, add a baked good and knock on the door.
I walked out of our house and within 2 weeks, our neighbors were talking, hanging out in their yards and garages, waving at each other and the area is so much happier. We now know pretty much everyone in the neighborhood and rumor on the street is, so do the other neighbors.
The craziest place I’ve seen the change that I NEVER expected – the neighborhood wives’ page. Not only are people more comfortable to post in it for guidance, they are also receiving great responses. People are lending and borrowing stuff, watching kids and becoming emergency contacts.
It’s amazing to see that they now treat each other as if they’ve known each other forever. While I can only speak to the before and after of our neighborhood site, before the baskets it wasn’t a place anyone trusted and there was a lot of drama. A little act of kindness when they feel the most lost goes a long way. Be the one that makes the first step and I promise you, everyone wins.
I can’t wait to hear about YOUR break the ice stories!