Welcome Thoughts

new organization encourages residents to connect with newcomers

Tori Johnson

LET’S GET TOGETHER. A new organization that helps residents get to know their new-to-Eau Claire neighbors, called CONNECT, handed out gift bags at the International Fall Festival in October.
LET’S GET TOGETHER. A new organization that helps residents get to know their new-to-Eau Claire neighbors, called CONNECT, handed out gift bags at the International Fall Festival in October.

Moving happens. Whether prompted by a career, spontaneity, or the desire for a fresh start, you may someday find yourself living in a strange new place. Many people are moving into our community, a strange new place to them, and there is a new organization in the area designed to help you meet them! CONNECT has developed a plan of action to take Midwest nice even further.

So you know someone who is new to the Chippewa Valley. You simply get in contact with CONNECT via email or Facebook and let them know. They will send you a gift bag within 48 hours, which you can personally deliver to your new pal. Within the bag will be information on the neighborhood, a small gift, a current issue of Volume One, coupons and offers from local businesses, and resources on cultural and service groups in the area. It’s essentially a starter kit for getting to know the neighborhood. This act of hospitality lays the foundation of inclusiveness to all people moving into the Chippewa Valley. CONNECT aims to establish a connection among the people involved – those giving the bag and those receiving it.

CONNECT was born out of Circles of Change, an initiative at UW-Eau Claire. A few local residents met to discuss bringing people together and searching for new ways to initiate person-to-person communication. Currently, the organization is made up of six members, all of whom volunteer their time and energy to bring these ideas to life. CONNECT is looking for different sponsors and fundraising opportunities which would allow them to grow into their fullest potential. The members are striving for a more secure future with hopes of eventually becoming an official nonprofit.

CONNECT gives residents the opportunity to knock on a neighbor’s door or introduce themselves to a coworker, and provides grounds for the first few conversation that initiate relationships. Members are trying to get the word out about their organization to local businesses, Realtors, neighborhood leaders, and other community members to build recognition of their services. They are looking for support from the community, in an effort to, in turn, support the community.

The mission set forward by Emily Wermund, one of the founding members of CONNECT, is to “discuss diversity, race, and culture while focusing on welcoming new residents to the Chippewa Valley.” Creating a positive experience for people moving into the community and helping all people feel welcome upon arrival is extremely important to those behind this innovative organization. They aspire to help create an inclusive spirit and bring value to the community by improving the quality of life. Wermund hopes that CONNECT will inspire those within the Valley to “Be an ally, not only say that you care but show that you care.”

Anyone looking to contact CONNECT can find them at facebook.com/connectchippewavalley or connectchippewavalley@gmail.com.

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