Jennifer Stallman, Grinnell Community Greeter
By J.O. Parker
A revitalized welcoming service has opened its doors and is now reaching out to new residents of Grinnell.
Community Greetings, formerly called Warm Welcomes, re-opened its doors this summer and is now under the direction of Jennifer Stallman of Grinnell.
The community greetings service started a number of years ago in Grinnell by Lori Morgan, a Pella Relator, who owns Warm Welcomes there.
Stallman said Morgan recently sold the business to Bobbi Jo Wolfe of Grimes, who owns community greeting services in the Des Moines Metro, West Des Moines and numerous other communities such as Knoxville, Indianola, Boone, Ames, Winterset and Newton. Community Greetings was started in 1999.
Wolfe was looking for a greeter and through Morgan, was given Stallman’s name as a possibility.
“I was approached with the idea of becoming the greeter for Grinnell at the end of June,” said Stallman. “This was nowhere on my radar of things to do since I do own my own business, Medicap Pharmacy, where I work full-time and have a family.”
After giving the idea of being a community greeter some thought, Stallman, who has called Grinnell home for 27-years, decided to take the challenge, saying “It is great fit for me.”
As the Grinnell community greeter, Stallman reaches out to local businesses who provided business cards, brochures, businesses gifts such as a measuring tape or a toothbrush and toothpaste, a flyswatter, a coffee mug, a cutting board or a discount coupon, etc., which is then placed in a bag and given to new residents. The welcome community bag may also include info on local eating establishments, doctor’s offices, auto repair services, home improvement and other business to help new residents feel welcome
When Stallman started on July 1, there were around 12 business participating in the Warm Welcomes outreach. Today, the number of businesses has climbed to around 34 under Community Greetings.
“All the new residents I have visited with have just loved that we offer this service,” Stallman said. “They are so grateful to all the small businesses here in town that are a part of this bag. It really has made them feel welcomed into our community.”
Stallman said the best part of being a community greeter is meeting and getting to know the new residents and making them feel welcome in Grinnell.
Stallman says she does her best to sit down with the new residents and get to know them and talk about each business individually that is part of the welcome to Grinnell bag.
“Sometimes, I can be at someone’s house for 20-25 minutes and sometimes it’s over an hour,” she said. “I love to find out where these people move from, if they have kids, if they have pets, what brought them to Grinnell. I have found it so interesting and I have absolutely loved it so far.”
The welcome to Grinnell bag also includes a business card, email address and phone number to reach Stallman, should they have any questions about services in Grinnell.
“I will do my best to answer any questions they may have,” she said. “I want everyone to feel welcome no matter their background or where they came from. That is my goal.”
Stallman said she wants to help new residents find a way to get involved with the Grinnell community and to make it feel like home sooner than later.
“On the flipside, this service is so important to our locally owned small businesses. I hate seeing businesses close due to financial reasons,” said Stallman. “I want to do everything I can to make sure our business community continues to grow.”
Stallman also has a Facebook page under Grinnell Community Greetings where she posts updates and information about new businesses who participate in the community greetings outreach. She is always looking for businesses who want to participate in the community greetings outreach.
So, if you ever know of someone who just moved to town, please feel free to reach out to me,” said Stallman. “Maybe a family member is moving to town, you are getting a new neighbor...whatever it may be.”
Stallman can be reached at www.CommunityGreetings.com, Grinnellcommunitygreetings@gmail.comor by telephone at 641-990-7731.