After a four-year absence, the Welcome Wagon program is back in the Bulkley Valley.
The previous representative had to leave the position suddenly and no one had stepped up to replace her.
Through her job at The Interior News, Laura Botten was used to dealing with the Welcome Wagon representative and noticed the absence of the program in the community.
“I felt strongly that the Welcome Wagon needed to have a presence in the community, even if it meant doing it myself,” she said.
After spending months gathering materials to fill the welcome basket, Botten started making her first visits as a Welcome Wagon representative earlier this year.
It’s been a learning experience for her, but Botten said she has enjoyed every visit.
“I’m a little shy with new people so it’s a bit out of my comfort zone sometimes, but I’m proud of my community so I’m able to make the extra effort.”
As a long-time resident, Botten is well qualified to be the one to welcome new people to the Bulkley Valley.
Her grandparents, Stan and Laura Flint, moved here in 1949.
“The Bulkley Valley is a wonderful place and I’m very proud of my home,” Botten said.
She also has two children of her own, Ryan and Lisa, so she’s well-versed in what new parents can expect as well.
“The best part for me is meeting the new people and hearing their stories about what brought them here,” she said. “And of course seeing the new babies.”
The goodies in the Welcome Wagon basket are sponsored by businesses in Smithers and Telkwa.
They include general information about the area, maps, gift certificates and other small items. The program has been around in Canada for more than 80 years.
“Each visit has the same basket but the all are a very different experience.”
A typical Welcome Wagon visit takes about 20 minutes.
Botten is always on the look-out for new sponsors and new residents and babies to visit. She’s available on Wednesday, Saturday and most evenings.
For more information on the program, call Laura at 250-846-5742.