In August of 2012, my family and I moved from South Carolina to the great Pacific Northwest. We couldn't have picked a more lovely or wonderful time to expose our two children to this incredible corner of the country. Kids were riding their bikes, people were walking their dogs, the smell of barbecues wafted thought the air. On our very first morning out, we ventured down to the nearest Starbucks, only to strike up a conversation with some terrific kids who were near the same age as our own! Meeting people, and building relationships has become a terrific new adventure as well as a daunting challenge. As the one responsible for initiating this move, I felt an additional burden for us to be successful in this endeavor. So, after 6 months, we have been blessed to have made some good friendships, began new ones, and look forward to continuing to meet others whom we can share life and experiences with. Here are some ways that we have been able to meet people as newcomers to the Northwest.
1. Serve in the community: Without a doubt, serving our community has been one of the best ways to meet others, while making a positive impact as well. There are plenty of opportunities to serve throughout the Eastside, but some of the ways that our family has served includes serving at the Heart & Home Thrift Store, our kids school, Jubilee Reach, Vocational Chore Services, Congregations for the Homeless and with the Highland Community Center. People always welcome those that are looking to give and not receive.
2. Children's Activities: Whether it is attending a school Walk-A-Thon, sticking around for a birthday party, tennis lesson, or gymnastics, as a parent, you can meet many other parents through your children. In addition, children are often much better at making relational connections with their peers than us adults. For kids, a simple "do you wanna play with me?" can open the door to a lifelong friendship.
3. Become a Fan: Whether it is the Seahawks, Huskies, Mariners, or the local High School team, sports has a way of breaking down social barriers and bringing people together. Wearing a team shirt can be just the icebreaker necessary to get a conversation going. Inviting someone to attend the game, or even watch it at your house can be a simple way to begin a friendship. Even if they are unable to attend, it communicates a desire to grow the frienship. Full disclosure: After buying a gold VW Passat Wagon after moving here, I decided it just wouldn't look right without a large purple W on the side door! Go Huskies!
4. Meet your Neighbors: Not every neighbor may end up becoming a best friend, but your life and your family will be richer for having made the effort to go beyond the awkward wave at the mailbox. Get to know their names, their kids, and their interests. Invite them over for a meal or a movie. You never know what you might find you have in common.
5. Attend a new Church: A church is a wonderful place to meet others who may share your values and concerns. Throughout my life, some of my deepest, most cherished friendships have been born out of shared commitment to serving and worshipping at a local church. When choosing a local church, it is important to not just look for the church with the most "bells and whistles," but a place where you can be known, and you can get to know others.
Don't let the rain clouds and the short days discourage you from meeting others and making friends. If you give it some effort, you may discover a potential friendship appear unexpectedly like a sliver of sunlight and blue sky on a wet and grey Seattle afternoon.