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Shelburne Community Welcome Resumes Greeting Newcomers

A photo of Shaila (Bella) Carter and Sandra Gallaugher (right), founders of the Shelburne Community Welcome. Photo supplied by Shaila Carter. Photo taken by anthonyforbezphotography.
A photo of Shaila (Bella) Carter and Sandra Gallaugher (right), founders of the Shelburne Community Welcome. Photo supplied by Shaila Carter. Photo taken by anthonyforbezphotography.

Do you remember the Welcome Wagon, which would greet newcomers as they moved into the town? The Town of Shelburne is fortunate to have this concept live on through the Shelburne Community Welcome.

“When I moved here, I received a nice basket to welcome me into the neighbourhood,” shared Bella Carter, co-founder of the Shelburne Community Welcome. “I want to continue that tradition.”

Shaila “Bella” Carter is a mother of four, works full-time, and is a resident of Shelburne. In 2020, after the Welcome Wagon discontinued its operations, Carter decided to revive the initiative, albeit in a different form. Carter said the acts performed by the Welcome Wagon made her feel the embrace of the community and identified that the custom should be upheld. 

“It’s perfect for someone like myself, who likes to meet people,” told Bella Carter. “I like to be out in the community, so it just worked out really well.”

Bella Carter reached out to Sandra Gallaugher, a citizen of Mulmur. Gallaugher owned a travel business in Shelburne for thirty years; during that time, she was involved in the Shelburne Business Improvement Area, the local Chamber of Commerce, and the Dufferin Board of Trade. Sandra Gallaugher is an active community fundraiser, currently a member of the Rotary Club of Shelburne and Chair of the Shelburne Splashpad Committee.

“She said yes, thank god,” said Carter. “I really didn’t know who else I could trust with this kind of work.”

The pair’s visits typically last thirty minutes, although they say that can vary. During this time, they introduce themselves and provide information on the town and gifting them a basket full of goods. Carter and Gallaugher state that they build relationships with the new residents they meet, leaving contact details if further assistance is needed. The items contained in the basket support new inhabitants in connecting with local services and professionals, further integrating them into the community and reducing the need to travel. So far, the Shelburne Community Welcome has greeted approximately 60 new residents to the town.

“Our visits help to disintegrate that invisible barrier of when someone first moves in, and alleviate any worries or loneliness,” asserted Carter.

The Shelburne Community Welcome partners with local businesses that contribute the items that fill the baskets. In addition to supplying products, participating organizations pay a fee to the Shelburne Community Welcome. An associated benefit with the partnership is businesses are generally given exclusivity in their service sector. For instance, there is only one insurance agent and one flower shop featured, which helps ensure the basket is not full of the same goods and services. Moreover, Shelburne firms are often granted the right of first refusal before the Community Welcome opens the proposal to possible competitors operating in the larger Dufferin area. The Shelburne Community Welcome is currently partnered with twenty local businesses.

“We’re promoting local business as well as welcoming people to community, which we feel is especially important during the pandemic,” declared Gallaugher. 

The Shelburne Community Welcome has been inactive the last few months do to COVID-related regulations, but they have started back up.

As for what the future entails for the Shelburne Community Welcome, Bella Carter and Sandra Gallaugher are tight-lipped but indicated there might be opportunities for established members of other communities to get involved with the platform being created. 

If one is interested in learning more about the Shelburne Community Welcome, including businesses that would like to participate, the e-mail is

Shelburne Community Welcome

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