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Bragg Creek resident creates welcome bags for hamlet newcomers

After experiencing the stresses of moving firsthand, Jenn Pole wanted to help other Bragg Creek newcomers and created free welcome bags for newcomers.

Moving to a new community can be a stressful experience – something Bragg Creek resident Jenn Pole has first-hand experience with.

Pole, who previously lived in Airdrie for 12 years, noted her recent struggles when moving to Bragg Creek just over a year ago.

“We had a very good sense of community [in Airdrie],” Pole said. “It was really hard leaving that and then coming to somewhere new [where] everything is so different.”

Pole said learning how Bragg Creek functions – such as discovering that a household’s trash has to be disposed of manually, as the hamlet does not have curbside garbage collection – was overwhelming for her at first.

She figured it possibly is a tough transition for other newcomers, too, which formed the basis of her idea to create “welcome bags” for those who, like her, have only just recently moved to Bragg Creek.

A few months after coming up with the idea, Pole has now curated nearly 40 Bragg Creek welcome bags for newcomers to the picturesque hamlet in southwest Rocky View County. The welcome packages contain items and information from Rocky View County, local businesses, and services in Cochrane that are available to Bragg Creek residents. 

Along with tips and tricks about Bragg Creek living, services in Cochrane such as the health centre, urgent care facility and the food bank, and local businesses supplied information for the welcome bags.

For example, a local plumber contributed septic-safe toilet paper, which is something many newcomers do not consider when relocating to the hamlet, Pole said. 

According to Pole, many Bragg Creek residents are unaware of the resources available to them in Cochrane. 

“Cochrane put some family resource information in there too because a lot of people don’t realize that they have a food bank for [Bragg Creek] also,” Pole said. 

Nearly 40 local businesses and storefronts contributed to the initiative, some donating items while others supplied discounts for their services, according to Pole. 

The bags can be collected at the Bragg Creek Community Centre from Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. 

Realtors are able to gift the bags when welcoming home buyers into their house or newcomers can pick up a gift pack themselves. Residents can also collect a welcome bag to give to their new neighbours, but Pole said a tracking system will be in place to ensure the same newcomer will not receive more than one gift bag. 

So far, Pole has put the bags together herself, adding it took a few months for the idea to come to fruition. 

“I didn’t really think of everything that goes along with it because you’re calling everyone, you’re emailing. You have to track everybody and then you get a follow-up… there was a lot of little things,” Pole said. 

Pole has crafted 38 bags as of Aug. 10 and said people have already started collecting them. The goal is to replenish the bags every quarter, according to Pole, but she added she is hoping to have additional help next time.

“This would not be possible if it wasn’t for all of the businesses and organizations that supported this and contributed to it,” Pole added. “Otherwise, the bags would be empty.”

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