Rolling out the welcome mat

Rolling out the welcome mat

Created date

June 21st, 2019
The Connectors cochair Barbara Gobrecht (left) and Senior Manager of Resident Life Todd Sullivan work together to welcome new community members to Maris Grove.

The Connectors cochair Barbara Gobrecht and Senior Manager of Resident Life Todd Sullivan work together to welcome new community members to Maris Grove.

For many new community members, moving to Maris Grove is like a permanent vacation. Eager to enjoy an active, worry-free life, they dive into clubs, activities, and dining out. Others, who need a bit more time to settle in, will find a number of groups to help them make friends and participate in activities at their own pace. 

The Welcome Home program begins the moment new neighbors receive their keys. Says Todd Sullivan, senior manager of resident services, “We spend several hours walking new residents through the community and showing them how to use the appliances and features in their new home.” To alleviate moving-day stress, a resident life team member holds the elevator open and makes sure all goes smoothly. “We stop by the next day and then a week later to see how they are settling in,” Sullivan says. “If they have questions, we’re here to set their minds at ease.”

The Connectors

Because making new friends is essential to well-being, The Connectors step in next. The group launched when the three newest neighborhoods opened. Group chair Barbara Gobrecht says, “Lots of people were moving in at the same time, so it was easy for them to bond and make friends. It struck me that people moving into well-established neighborhoods might need extra support making social connections. I approached Todd about forming a group of residents to partner with the resident life team. I rounded up some volunteer Connectors, and we got busy welcoming every newcomer.”

The Connectors began with 15 volunteers and now has 25. Each week they receive a list of who’s moving in. A Connector stops by to leave a brochure with contact information. “We issue an open invitation to reach out to us when they’re ready,” Barbara says. “Our goal is to find common ground for everyone, from hobbies to life experiences. We match couples to couples, singles to singles. We take them to dinner and activities, but with no pressure. We go at their pace.” 

Newcomers and Flying Solo Clubs

In addition to The Connectors, the Newcomers Club hosts a wine and cheese party on the fourth Friday of each month, drawing up to 50 people. The relaxed setting is ideal for people to meet, mingle, and form friendships. For singles, the Flying Solo Club provides socializing opportunities once or twice a month. The group meets for dinner in a private dining room and opens with an icebreaker activity to put everyone at ease. Sullivan says, “It can be harder to get involved without a spouse. This club makes it easy, especially for people who are adjusting to the single life after decades as a couple. This shared experience creates a powerful bond.”

Whether you’re visiting for the first time or ready to move in, rest assured that you’ll find many welcome mats rolled out for you at Maris Grove. With so many options for building friendships, no one feels like a stranger for long.