Human resource professionals have a new tool to help relocating executives and their families feel at home in the Grand Rapids community.
Shirley and Bruce Boundy launched their new business, Welcome Home, earlier this year, with Shirley serving as president and Bruce as vice president and CFO. Welcome Home was developed following several conversations about how to help families new to the area become part of the community.
“People in Grand Rapids are wonderfully warm and welcoming, but they tend to forget that it is a process to begin to feel a part of a community,” said Shirley Boundy. “It doesn’t happen just because someone drops off a plate of brownies.”
Getting talented workers to relocate to Grand Rapids is only the first step; the second is giving them a reason to stay.
“All of us have either heard stories about people who have had to leave because they just didn’t feel that they belonged, for whatever reason, or we know someone who did,” she said. “In our case, we know someone who left because it wasn’t working.”
Welcome Home has two main goals to help new families feel at home: first, to get the home in order so it is live-in ready upon arrival, and second, to acclimate the new arrivals to the community.
Welcome Home offers its Front Door Package to anyone utilizing its services. The package includes services such as cleaning the new home, including the air ducts and furnace, washing the windows, facilitating minor fixes and repairs, coordinating the connection of residential services such as utilities, coordinating the move, unpacking boxes and arranging furniture and household items, and even stocking the pantry and refrigerator.
In addition, the company offers a la carte options. These include meeting face-to-face with Shirley in the client’s current home to plan the upcoming move. Welcome Home will create a video of the interior of the new house so the couple can indicate placement of furniture and artwork. It also can help with the sale, donation or disposal of unwanted furniture or other items.
All of the options are personalized to fit individual needs; cost is negotiated based on the variables involved.
Welcome Home has a team in place to handle certain aspects of the move, but subcontracts all work that needs to be done by insured or certified professionals.
“We do not lift,” Boundy said. “The moving guys from the moving van lift the boxes and put them in the right rooms, and the team that is working with us does the unpacking and puts everything where it belongs. Before that, when we are cleaning the house and windows and all of that, we hire professionals in each area of expertise.”
Besides getting the house in order, Welcome Home will develop a binder of personalized resources and information to help the family settle into the new community.
“We give everybody a tailor-made three-ring binder that is designed to accommodate their needs. For example, if a family moves in with preschool-aged children, then we will have a directory of preschools so the family can immediately pull it out and refer to it.”
Other things that might be included in the binder are maps highlighting grocery stores, pharmacies, veterinarians, gas stations and retailers, as well as a list of volunteer opportunities. All binders also come with an emergency contact list.
Finally, Boundy said, in developing Welcome Home’s services, they took into account the needs of the new employee’s accompanying partner, knowing that person’s entry into the community is equally important to keep the family in the area.
“We provide information that will help them to begin to develop their own network,” she said.
Welcome Home can even set the partner up with a mentor from the community who shares similar interests and is available to get together with them and introduce them around town.
The Boundys also serve as resources throughout the transition and, as longtime members of the Grand Rapids community, they have an extensive network to call upon. Shirley is the former owner and president of PR and marketing firm Hubers and Associates, while Bruce was an industrial designer at Baker Furniture.
“The new employee will feel much more at ease and far less stressed about whether or not his or her family is settling in,” Boundy said.
The employee’s full attention can be focused on his or her new role within the company instead of worrying about what is happening at home.
“We believe that is a closer recipe for happiness than to know no one and not know where to begin.”