Greeting service welcomes newcomers to Sylvan Lake

Representatives aim to deliver baskets within a week or two of residents arriving

The beginning of the New Year marks the beginning of a new life for those who will move to Sylvan Lake in 2015, and there’s a service that aims to make life easier for them upon their arrival.

Welcome Wagon, a national greeting service with a presence in Sylvan Lake, provides free gift baskets to new residents in town. Included items such as water bottles, coupons, magnets, pens and flashlights advertising local businesses introduce newcomers to the local economy, and invite them to experience all that Sylvan Lake has to offer.

“You wouldn’t know where to start for any needs for services, or for shopping, you wouldn’t know where to go,” said Diane Dumont, Welcome Wagon area manager for Central Alberta. “That’s what Welcome Wagon tries to help out with.”

Dumont said the basket acts as a gift from local sponsors, and also includes town information. It’s personally delivered to the door of a new resident by a Welcome Wagon representative, who may also answer questions and provide helpful information on site.

With Sylvan Lake’s steady growth rates, demand isn’t in short supply, according to Dumont.

“Quite a few people are moving to Sylvan Lake — in one month, it was 63 new residents. That’s a lot,” she said.

Dumont herself is a former representative, and said delivering the baskets left her with “an awesome feeling.”

That, she feels, is what the program is all about.

“It was an awesome feeling to leave knowing that you made someone’s day after a visit, especially if someone has moved a long distance and they are alone, and they are in tears,” she said. “They are so happy to see a smile at their door.”

Sylvan Lake and area Welcome Wagon representative Robben Stappard said her role allows her to embrace her love of meeting new people. Smiles on recipients’ faces make her work all worthwhile, she feels.

“They are very appreciative,” she said.

Representatives aim to deliver baskets within a week or two of residents arriving. Ensuring they receive useful information as soon as possible is important, said Dumont.