By Andrew Mitchell
For newcomers to Whistler, many of them traveling halfway around the world to be here, it can take a while to feel at home in the community.
That’s why Welcome Week was created — to make new employees feel welcome, to answer questions and give advice, and to give them an opportunity to make friends while orienting them to the amenities and services available in the community. Most importantly, the goal is to make people feel that this is their community too, even if only for a little while.
“It’s successful because the community supports the event and has bought into the understanding that if you welcome the seasonal workers they’re going to feel more connected to the community and therefore a part of the community’s success,” said Greg McDonnell, Community Youth Outreach Worker for the Whistler Community Services Society and a participant in welcome week since the first one in 2003.
“It can take a while to figure this place out on your own, and we’re looking to make it as easy to integrate into the community as possible. As a result we get kids who care about Whistler.”
Welcome Week will run from Monday, Oct. 30 to Saturday, Nov. 4 with a series of free and subsidized events for newcomers.
Oct. 30 — There will be a Rotary Club of Whistler Millennium pancake brunch from 10 a.m. to noon at the firehall, at the corner of Village Gate and Blackcomb Way for $2. Also, the Westbeach Snowboard Movie Premier will take place at 7 p.m. at the Rainbow Theatre in the Telus Whistler Conference Centre The price is also $2, sponsored by Westbeach and Tourism Whistler.
Oct. 31 — The Whistler Employment Centre Job Fair offers prescreening interviews for a variety of different employers from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Telus Whistler Conference Centre.
Nov. 1 — Day two of the job fair, also from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Nov. 2 — Scavenger Hunt and barbecue, starting at noon at Whistler-Blackcomb staff housing, just up from Base II on Blackcomb. The scavenger hunt is free, and put on by Whistler-Blackcomb.
Nov. 3 — LUNA (Late and Unique Nighttime Alternatives) Moist IV Pool Party at Meadow Park Sports Centre, starting at 9 p.m. The price is $3 for LUNA members and $5 for non-members, with support from the municipality.
Nov. 4 — 4 th Annual Jill Ackhurst Community Welcome Dinner, starting at 5 p.m. at the Telus Whistler Conference Centre. The price is $3, which includes dinner and entertainment. RMOW Bylaw services is providing the food, while Rocky Mountain Audio-Visual will be providing equipment for the Coast Mountain Photography slideshow and a video presentation. Local reggae band Kostaman will be providing music.
Organizers are seeking individuals and families to host tables at the welcome dinner. About 250 volunteers will be needed, as up to 500 newcomers to Whistler are expected to turn out.
According to Michelle Chang, Community Youth Outreach Worker and the head organizer of Welcome Week 2006, volunteers will be needed to help set up the dinner, host tables and clean up afterwards — everything from stacking chairs to doing dishes.
“There’s a lot of support from various people in the community, and lots of different groups help out, so it’s definitely coming together,” she said. “We still do need lots of volunteers to help out and have a little fun as well.”
Anyone who wishes to volunteer this year or donate to Whistler Welcome Week can contact Chang to 604-902-0670 or by e-mail at email@example.com.