Minneapolis launches modern-day version of the old "Welcome Wagon"

The City of Minneapolis is modernizing an old-fashioned way of welcoming people to the neighborhood. At an event held Thursday, Oct. 21 at Community Action of Minneapolis, Council Vice President Robert Lilligren, Council Member Cam Gordon and staff from the City's Neighborhood and Community Relations department announced the kick-off of "Hello Neighbor" – a modern-day version of the "Welcome Wagon and a new initiative designed to personally welcome recent immigrants to Minneapolis neighborhoods.

Beginning in November, "Hello Neighbor" volunteers from local resettlement agencies and the City will greet recent immigrants at their homes with one-on-one personal welcomes and give them a hand-made gift bag filled with a refillable Tap Minneapolis water bottle, coupons, pre-paid calling cards, and free information about city services and resources. The City's Neighborhood and Community Relations department is focusing on areas of the city with a large East African population and hoping to reach approximately 500 new arrivals in the first year of this initiative. If the pilot program succeeds, the goal is to eventually take it city-wide to everyone moving into Minneapolis.

Through a grant from The Bush Foundation – a private philanthropic foundation serving Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota – the City developed "Hello Neighbor" as a holistic effort to establish a human connection with newly arrived immigrants at an early stage with the hope that these new residents will learn about city services and resources, feel part of a community, connect with civic and neighborhood organizations, and improve their overall quality of life.

Volunteer opportunities exist for those who want to be greeters and deliver the gift bags. To get involved with Hello Neighbor contact Mohamed Hajin in the Neighborhood and Community Relations department at (612) 673-5475.

Published Oct 21, 2010