Welcome home: New resident, Mayor Andy Cook talk on city’s welcome program

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Although she’s lived in several cities, new Westfield resident Teresa Lutey-Galley said she hasn’t encountered hospitality quite like the City of Westfield’s before.

Lutey-Galley, who moved to the Chatham Hills neighborhood in northern Westfield in January, was the first new resident to meet Mayor Andy Cook through the city’s New Resident Program. The program is similar to the Welcome Wagon concept launched in 1928 in Florida as a way to welcome new residents gift baskets from local businesses.

The New Resident Program welcomes new Westfield residents by providing a gift and a wealth of information about schools, pharmacies, libraries, hardware stores, local businesses, city events and other local resources.

“It’s unbelievable. There’s just a spirit of welcome everywhere you go here,” Lutey-Galley said.

As part of the program, Cook said he wants to personally meet each new resident.

“We are fortunate to have a lot of new residents, young and old, and part of our outreach is to learn from our new residents,” Cook said. “The question I love to ask is, ‘Why did you move here?’ and we hear a lot of things. We have made a strong effort to reach out to all of our new people and present them with a package of information and things that say, ‘We’re glad you’re here’ and, boldly so, ask if they would like to meet the mayor because I would like to meet each and every one of them.”

Lutey-Galley said the welcoming spirit extends beyond city staff. When she visits restaurants like Erika’s Place or eateries on Park Street, locals always tell her where to go for live music and where to find other activities around Hamilton County.

“I think there’s a vitality here you don’t find a lot of places,” she said.

Westfield Welcome Director Angie Smitherman runs the program. She estimates between 100 and 150 new residents arrive each month. To alert them of the New Resident Program, the city has partnered with Tom Warner, who works for Welcomemat Services. Welcomemat distributes a packet of coupons in the mail to each new resident. The city works with Warner to include a coupon with a picture of the mayor encouraging residents to reach out and meet the mayor.

The New Resident Program launched Jan. 1. Welcomemat Services coupons are mailed at the end of each month.

Cook said he never tires of saying, “Welcome to Westfield. Welcome home.”

Mayor Andy Cook and Madeleine Sheller encourage new residents to reach out and meet the mayor. (Submitted photo)

Other ways of alerting residents about the New Resident Program

In addition to including a coupon in the Welcomemat Services coupon mailers, the City of Westfield initiated several other ways to alert the new residents of the program.

Information was added to the first-quarter billing for trash and stormwater fees, which reaches all residents. The Westfield Welcome website, westfieldwelcome.com, also was updated with a tab for new residents. The link directs them to a page with a video, the new resident packet and information on how to meet Mayor Andy Cook.

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