ROCHELLE – The City of Rochelle is creating a program for new residents moving to town that will both make them feel welcomed in the community and help their transition go smoothly.
According to Mayor John Bearrows, new residents in town will receive a phone call from the city along with a basket full of items from him. They will also receive an invitation to the first ever new resident reception that will take place on Aug. 22 at Kennay Farms Distillery.
The main goal of the reception is to bring people together and to help them get acquainted with city officials and some of the businesses.
“I feel when a new resident comes to town we need to make them feel very comfortable in that they know who to call to have their car worked on, or go to the dentist or a doctor or whatever,” said Bearrows. “Now, there are very few phonebooks out there, so I felt it was important to put together a packet to give to the new resident that has all the various phone numbers of all the things that you and I take for granted.”
Bearrows came up with the idea and when he brought it up to the city, the staff ran with it. Within four hours after meeting with the first staff member about choosing a location, Kennay Farms had been locked in. Bearrows said everyone on the city staff has pitched in to help this program come together, even designing welcome baskets to hand out.
“This is not just a Mayor Bearrows type thing, the whole city staff has really pulled together and made this all happen. I came up with the idea and the entire staff jumped on it and said what can we do, how can we help?” explained Bearrows. “I don’t know of anyone on the City of Rochelle staff that doesn’t have their whole heart in this community.”
The event will last between one and a half and two hours and will feature many local businesses and city officials for new residents to get to know. There will also be snacks including local restaurant Ralfie’s BBQ. This is the first and only reception that will take place in 2019, but the city plans to have two receptions next year while rotating locations. The receptions next year are scheduled for mid-June and early November.
“At the second one my vision is, we could have the new residents along with some of the ones from the event before. They are now a seasoned resident and they can relate to these folks and say, “I know how you feel,” explained Bearrows. “and then there is a sense of trust and comfort with that person who has already been through what they are going through.”
While the reception is aimed at helping the new residents get acclimated, it is also geared at changing the way the community looks at newcomers.
“People that come from the outside can sometimes be looked at as outsiders and I want to eliminate that stigma. I don’t want people to think that if you weren’t born here or were you raised here, it really doesn’t matter,” said Bearrows. “You’re here and you chose this spot, you could have chosen any of the other 49 states but you chose Rochelle, Illinois and we want to show that we appreciate that and make people feel at home.”