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The Welcome and Orientation Team
An Interview with Kathy Barrows
By Charli Depner
“Andy was the original welcome team.” Kathy Barrows fondly remembers being "officially welcomed" by Executive Director Andy Gaines, when she joined Ashby Village in 2012. “He had a big smile and an open laptop.”
Today, a team of five enthusiastic member volunteers—Audre Newman, Liz Raymer, Barbi Jo Stim, Mairin Malarka-Meyer, and Kathy Barrows- is dedicated to the significant role of reaching out to new members to help them find a meaningful place in the Ashby Village community. “I believe in the importance of community.” Especially as we age and our life circumstances change, we need to keep up old friendships and make new ones with people who share common interests.
The Welcome Team represents the first step of engagement with new members. Our role is to answer questions and go over the basics in the personalized welcome packet, things like how to make a service request, find out about activities, use the website and connect with neighborhood groups. And, of course, we encourage them to become volunteers themselves (as half our members are also volunteers). Afterwards we make follow-up calls to make sure new members are getting their needs met.
Barrows' primary mission is to build community by helping new members connect and participate. “I joined this team because I wanted to get out and meet the members one-on-one. I love hearing people’s stories about their fascinating lives. There is always some way to link people's skills and interests to what is going on in Ashby Village, even if the member does not get out much. People are amazingly generous. Everyone brings to the Village what they can, and I always feel like I receive more from the new members than I bring.”
Barbi Jo Stim, Kathy Barrows, Mairin Malarka-Meyer and Audre Newman