University City

How do you welcome a new neighbor?

When new neighbors move into your community or development, how do you welcome them?

Do you acknowledge them with a wave, or do you actually get out of your car or walk to their door to welcome them?

Do you bake cookies or bring a flower, a plant or a card? In this day and age, do most people prefer home-baked goods or store-bought treats?

Does your neighborhood association or homeowners association have a standard procedure to welcome new residents?

I'd like to hear from you. Can you share an experience that describes how you welcomed a new person or family into your neighborhood? Or, if you were on the receiving end, can you share your experience of being welcomed into a new neighborhood?

If you had never received any type of welcome into your new neighborhood, would it matter?

I have a totally unscientific theory that an individual or family who gets a warm welcome into a new neighborhood will be more likely to be involved in the neighborhood.

When I say "involved," I mean active in the neighborhood or homeowners association, paying dues, getting to know neighbors, and so on.

There is no magic formula that will make folks get involved in a neighborhood association. Sometimes I wonder whether it takes a catastrophic event (such as news that a new road will bulldoze its way through the neighborhood) to get residents out to neighborhood meetings.

Something as simple as basic kindness toward a fellow neighbor might get them involved in the neighborhood. As a former neighborhood leader and a consultant in community organizing, I have learned that apathy is a problem in neighborhoods of all economic levels.

That brings me back to my theory: Regardless of the price of the home or the location of the neighborhood, would a warm welcome be a deciding factor in helping you become involved and connected?

At a recent meeting in my Newell Place neighborhood, the topic of welcoming new neighbors was discussed.

"Welcoming new neighbors is a lost art, and we need to get back into that," said David Honeywell, co-president of our neighborhood association.

At the meeting it was decided that the association would distribute homemade cookies, a plant, a copy of the neighborhood bylaws and a neighborhood directory to all new residents (those who had moved into the neighborhood within the past several months).

If you have lost track of new residents in your neighborhood, you could look up their names through tax records. Or you could take the chance of just showing up at their doorstep.

Whether you enjoy a close-knit neighborhood or prefer to live in an isolated environment, I'd really like to hear about your "welcome to the neighborhood" experience.

In a few weeks, I'll write a column about the best experiences.

Maybe your experience will inspire other neighborhoods and individuals. These days, a little kindness can go a long way.

I look forward to hearing from you.