By Meghan Kearney, Marketing Specialist, Bank Iowa.
At an early age, my parents vigorously encouraged me to make friends and to find opportunities to be an active participant in my community – even if that community was a kindergarten class. These friends and my community served as a support system that helped me manage the challenges of childhood – whether it was surviving a difficult class or finding entertainment during a rough winter, both my friends and community members were there for me.
So, what happens when you move to a new city in the midst of a global pandemic? How do you find friends? Finding that support system may seem a bit more daunting than show-and-tell.
When I first moved to Des Moines, similar fears consumed me. I wanted to know which restaurants were the best in the area, what activities and events were happening every weekend and how to make new friends when I didn’t have a friend in town to ask.
I quickly learned to acclimate to my surroundings and thrust myself into my community. And by doing these three things, I not only found new friends, I found a new community and support system.
- Volunteer – Whether it is volunteering your time at the local animal shelter or sitting on the board of a professional organization, take time to be involved in your community. By volunteering for something you are passionate about you are not only strengthening and giving back to a community you are a part of, you’re also gaining the opportunity to meet people who care about the same interests as you.
- Participate in local events – Look at your local chamber of commerce for events happening in your area — and attend them! Many events support local businesses, restaurants and boutiques in the area. By attending these events, you will get a taste of what the city has to offer and meet business owners and influencers that can point you in the right direction.
- Get active – Participate in a local 5K or a community bike ride. If being active isn’t what you enjoy, join a book club or find groups with interests similar to your own. Sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and meet people who either have similar interests to you or are in the same boat you are; trying to build a community.
Next month, you’ll have the chance to do all three. The West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce will host the first annual Racoon River Rally event. This event is for those looking to get involved with their local community and create connections with others living and working in the area.
Students, organizations, young professionals and other community members passionate about dedicating time to support local events can volunteer for various activities throughout the day.
To get a taste of what the city has to offer, live music, local food trucks and beer will be available for eventgoers. Other businesses and organizations located in West Des Moines will have booths for community members learn more about what they do and support the community.
Lastly, families and individuals can get active by participating in cardboard boat racing, take a bike ride throughout West Des Moines or take part in many family-friendly activities located in Racoon River Park. No matter what you are looking for, there is something for everyone at this event.
If you are new to the area and looking to get a taste of West Des Moines, participate in local events and build new connections, the Racoon River Rally is a great place to test the waters.
When moving to a new city, finding friends and creating a support system in your community simply starts with socializing. Find what you are passionate about and put yourself out there. While it may seem uncomfortable to go somewhere or do something alone, know that there are many others in the same position as you. A community starts with just one person. Brew the connection to help you and your community grow and thrive.