If you are a newcomer to the region or someone who perhaps grew up here but has lived elsewhere for a while, it can be difficult to get to know your neighbors, especially if they live half a mile down the road. It can be hard to navigate the small-town experience, or figure out how to survive New England winters. Imagine the benefit of having a friendly person to show you the ropes.
The new Upper Valley chapter of the Vermont Welcome Wagon Project (VWWP) seeks to make the transition to New England life easier by connecting newcomers with local volunteers eager to meet and answer questions. By signing up for the program, new and returning residents (the program calls them “participants”) will have the opportunity to meet with up to three established residents (or “hosts”) who share their interests. Together hosts and participants plan to meet. This could entail grabbing a coffee or touring Main Street. These meetings offer the perfect opportunity to get to know the ins and outs of the new community and to ask questions of a neighbor.
The Upper Valley Chapter is the fifth regional chapter to open in the state since the project began in Chittenden County in 2018. The statewide program seeks to “complement the efforts in the state to close the talent gap in Vermont by helping retain new, newly returning, and existing Vermonters in the state by assisting them to get connected to community,” according to the VWWP website.
“We live in an area that is so rich with community activities, delicious food, captivating arts, passionate mom and pop shops, and an abundance of beautiful recreational opportunities,” said Monique Priestley, executive director of Bradford’s The Space On Main, which is taking part in the project. “Yet for newcomers, the Upper Valley can feel challenging and isolating. With the newest chapter of VWWP, we will provide a resource that establishes an early and inviting connection to the people and places that make our region such an incredible place to live.”
To enroll in the Upper Valley Chapter of the Vermont Welcome Wagon Project and to learn more about UVWWP, visit vitalcommunities.org/upper-valley-vermont-welcome-wagon-project/