Welcome Wagon promotes City and greets newcomers

Canada-wide program serves to strengthen community ties

WELCOME - Pryna Koberstein visits new residents to Lacombe on behalf of Welcome Wagon to share packages and provide information to newcomers.

WELCOME - Pryna Koberstein visits new residents to Lacombe on behalf of Welcome Wagon to share packages and provide information to newcomers.

Being welcomed is a great feeling.

That is exactly what Welcome Wagon, an initiative run in communities across Canada since 1930, exists to do. Pryna Koberstein, Welcome Wagon representative for Lacombe, said that she finds the program has great value in helping newcomers settle in.

“I think it’s an awesome service, a great way for them to get to know the community,” said Koberstein. She added that the Welcome Wagon provides many connections to local services and saves newcomers a lot of searching.

Lacombe’s Welcome Wagon program has been running in Lacombe for over 30 years, said Koberstein. She herself has been involved with Welcome Wagon for about four years.

She said she got involved with the program after retiring from her job with the City, then Town, of Lacombe. She said she finds the program a good way to promote the community.

It is important for Lacombe’s residents to take advantage of what Lacombe has to offer, said Koberstein.

Therefore, the Welcome Wagon is an important program to have as it introduces newcomers to those great amenities that Lacombe has to offer.

“Lacombe is awesome but we are a bedroom community,” said Koberstein. “I just think that a lot of people don’t realize what we all have to offer here in Lacombe.”

Welcome Wagon is best known for welcoming new residents to the community, but they provide other services as well. Koberstein explained it by saying it is Welcome Wagon’s job to visit people who are going through a lifestyle change.

In Lacombe, that means visiting residents who are new to the community and residents who have new additions to their families.

Koberstein said that Welcome Wagon also provides services to new brides, seniors and businesses but not all of those services are part of the program in Lacombe.

There are some guidelines as to what items and information should be included in Welcome Wagon baskets, said Koberstein, but representatives are largely independent.

The only mandatory items for the welcome baskets are a letter from the mayor, a local map, information on the local library, information on the local recreation centre, local newcomers club, employment centre, information on transit and recycling information.

Koberstein said that a big part of Welcome Wagon’s job is providing information.

She said she provides a great deal of information to new residents regarding such topics as the Kinsmen Aquatic centre, the Lacombe trail system, Lacombe Corn Maze, recreation programs offered by the City and the Wolf Creek Youth Unlimited U-Turn Centre.

For packages welcoming new babies, there is information from the Government of Canada regarding child safety, immunization, local hospitals and other services that benefit new parents or their new babies.

The welcome packages also include goodies and samples from local businesses pertaining to the people being welcomed.

For example, a package welcoming a new family might contain free cookies from the local grocery store and a free pass to the pool from the City. Other neat things, like welcome letters from the local MLA and MP for new residents or a certificate announcing the birth of Lacombe’s newest citizen for new babies, can be found in the packages as well.

What Koberstein likes best about the program is meeting all the newcomers to Lacombe, she said. She added she particularly enjoys meeting new moms with new babies.

“They always have these perfect little fingers and toes,” said Koberstein. “They are so sweet.”

Koberstein added that she has met people from all over Canada, into the United Sates and even elsewhere in the globe through the program as well.

“It’s always interesting to find out why they are here and everyone always has a story to tell.”

Welcome Wagon has value for local businesses as well, said Koberstein

“I think it’s a great way for them to be involved in their community and to create good will within their community,” said Koberstein. “I think it’s a great way for them to showcase how good the businesses are in Lacombe.”

Any newcomers wishing to request a visit from the Lacombe Welcome Wagon or businesses interested in sponsoring Welcome Wagon can learn more by contacting Pryna Koberstein at 403-348-9567 or through the Welcome Wagon web site at www.welcomewagon.ca.

news@lacombeexpress.com