We just sold our house and a new family with young boys was moving in! Our boys are all grown, but I remember how hard it is for children to move and make new friends. I saw two of the neighbor kids playing near our house last week and I went out to give them some of the old games that we were not going to be moving. When I went out there, I told them that there would be some new boys about their age moving into the house. I told them that these boys were moving from a different state and would not know any friends in Kalamazoo. I asked them if they remember what it was like to move and not know anyone. They both related a short story of how it felt! I suggested that they had the ability to make the new boys experience better than their own if they would come over when they saw these new boys and would be the boys first friend. The two boys looked at each other, smiled and said "Cool! Sure, we can try!" They were willing to step outside their comfort zone and welcome these new boys. Once they were specifically asked -- they felt empowered and accepted the responsibility of helping. The day the new family moved in, we spoke with the Dad and his comment was, "This is a great neighborhood! The boys already had friends come over to meet them and asked to play with them!" I smiled! My young friends had accepted the challenge, and had made a difference in how the whole family felt about the neighborhood!
Another school year is just around the corner. Almost every school around the country is anticipating some new families joining the school community. Have you made plans to make their students feel welcome? Have you thought about ways to make the families feel at home?
Make a list of the students who will be new to your school this fall and list their grade behind their name. Can you match the name of a current student who you think would respond in a similar manner to my young friends with the names of the new students!? You need to find students who can empathize and who can accept the challenge to become the First Friend.
Once you have a list, consider either sending the letter to the current students you select, or consider asking one of the parents, who also has the gift of hospitality, to host an afternoon or evening event for the new students, their families and the First Friend families.
Sure it will take a bit of time to organize and make the phone calls or send the letter......but think about the way your "First Friends" will be able to influence the impressions that the whole family of the new students feel about your school and community! Isn't that what sharing the love of Christ is all about?
Next month, we will give you some specific ideas to pass along to the PTA or other parent volunteer groups to further welcome the new families into your school and community.
Will you be the First Friend sample letter