WinterFest 2019 had a new booth, giving away popcorn to a very specific set of guests: recent additions to the community. Anyone was welcome to stop and chat, but if you had moved to the area within the last year, you received a gift as well as an invitation to a gathering called “Discover Deer Park”.
Discover Deer Park is led by Caleb Stapp, and brings newcomers together every few months to meet other new neighbors and key community leaders. The primary goal is to increase community connections by helping strangers become neighbors. Since people who have moved often need new local friends, this gives them an opportunity to meet other new residents. Secondary goals include helping new residents know their community leaders, check out a local business, receive an invitation to a local church, and hear about service organizations with whom they can volunteer.
As people move to a new area, there is a chance to become someone a little different. Discover Deer Park aims to increase the chances of that transition being positive for those individuals and their new community. By asking new residents to become involved in city life through positive engagement with city hall, the faith community, education, and service groups, Stapp believes they’ll rise to the occasion and begin new habits of outward-facing service.
When asked about his personal motivation for beginning Discover Deer Park, Stapp shared how his drive for hospitality really comes from his relationship with Jesus. Stapp attributed his love for making people feel welcome to “being loved and accepted by God” before he had done anything to deserve it, and feels that welcoming people to town is the opportunity to demonstrate love before the new resident could have done anything to deserve it. Stapp is also a part-time pastor on staff with First Baptist Church in Deer Park, so it’s obvious that his faith is a big part of who he is and what he does.
The next new neighbor gathering is scheduled for February 7th, at 7 PM, and will be hosted in the banquet room at Pizza Factory. RSVP’s are strongly encouraged and appreciated: www.tinyurl.com/DiscoverDeerPark. Mayor Tim Verzal will be there to welcome new residents and share with them recent city news, and Stapp is excited to help them discover Deer Park.
First Baptist is one of the sponsors for Discover Deer Park, and Stapp is encouraged to use their printer to create flyers and business cards. However, the biggest sponsors of Discover Deer Park have been the host businesses: The Pickett Fence, Classic Cafe, and Pizza Factory. The organizations that lend their leaders to the welcome events are key as well: the City of Deer Park, the Deer Park School District, the Deer Park branch of the Spokane County Library District, and the Chamber of Commerce.
You can help by liking Discover Deer Park on Facebook and sharing their invitations with your friends. Another way to get involved is to email Stapp at [email protected] to request your own flyers or business cards to hand to new residents whenever and wherever you meet them.