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Welcome to the community

Brooksby residents embrace new wave of move-ins

Created date

April 12th, 2016
Brooksby resident Lois Silverstein

Brooksby resident Lois Silverstein leads the resident-run Welcome Committee at the Peabody community.

Lois Silverstein remembers the first time she walked into the Overlook Restaurant at Brooksby Village.

“I had just moved to Brooksby, and I went to the dining room by myself,” says Lois. “I didn’t know anyone, so it was a bit overwhelming.”

A native New Yorker who spent 17 years in Florida, Lois returned to the Northeast in September 2013 to be closer to her two daughters in New Hampshire and Maryland and her son in New Jersey.

She chose a two-bedroom, one-bath, Harrison-style apartment at Brooksby, the Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass.

“I was very happy with my new apartment, but I knew I would have to make an effort to meet people,” says Lois. “I’m an introvert, so I find it easier to stay in the background.”

Lois scanned Brooksby’s monthly calendar, taking note of activities that interested her.

“I felt welcomed at every club and activity I visited,” says Lois, who joined a Wednesday bridge group. “I just had to take the initiative to meet people through different avenues. I met other newcomers who felt the same way, and that’s how the nucleus of a resident-run welcome committee came to be.”

Welcoming initiative

To help other new residents feel at home in the Peabody community, Lois and a group of Brooksby residents launched the Welcome Committee in May 2015. 

“Our goal is to offer a contact person as soon as a new resident moves to Brooksby,” says Lois. “We want to facilitate those points of entry into the community.”

During the second half of 2015, the Welcome Committee swelled to 40 members who personally connected with 126 new Brooksby residents.

“We have a great team eager to meet our new neighbors and welcome them to the community,” says Lois.

Cheryl Whittier, community resources coordinator, is the staff liaison to the Welcome Committee. 

“The Welcome Committee has made the move-in process more comfortable for our new residents,” says Whittier. “We have two staff members who welcome them, but there’s just something about having a personal connection with someone who’s already been through that experience.”

Once a week, Whittier emails Lois a list of new move-ins. Lois matches them up with a member of the Welcome Committee, often someone who lives in the same residence building at Brooksby.

“Within a week, the committee member makes contact and invites the new resident to lunch or dinner,” says Lois. “The greeter can also answer any questions or show the newcomer around campus.”

Positive feedback

Melanie Bernardin, director of resident life, says the feedback from new residents has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Residents like to be welcomed by other residents,” says Bernardin. “Those social connections are key to making sure our new residents are happy here at Brooksby.”

Jan Pomerleau was an original member of the fledging Welcome Committee. She moved to Brooksby in September 2014 from Taunton, Mass.

“I know how it feels to be in a new place surrounded by new people,” says Jan. “When Lois gives me the names of new residents, I go to their apartment around the time they move in and introduce myself.”

Jan says she customizes the welcoming process based on individual needs. 

“One new resident asked if I would ride the campus shuttle with her and explain the different stops,” says Jan. “I’m happy to do it because I know it’s helping our new residents feel more comfortable at Brooksby.”