On my way to the Telegraph office, I received a call: “There is a lady here waiting to see you.”
Little did I know I was about to receive a warm welcome unique to Dixon that would shape my patterns here.
Tere Elliott is a Dixon Greeter. She has continued a tradition started by Betsy Bulfer, who for 40 years has made sure new residents of Dixon know they can make themselves at home.
Elliott, Bulfer’s helper, carried a bag fat with coupons, maps, phone books and guides to give to me. Pamphlets of all shapes and sizes along with a fly swatter and ruler reached out from the top of this bag like it had its own skyline.
After a brief conversation about how my experience had been in Dixon to that point, she started going over each item with an explanation of the business and where I can find it.
Within the bag were pens, magnets, gift cards, coupons for free meals and discounted oil changes.
Before long, I had an idea where I could grab a bite, a haircut, groceries or gas. I had a map of the city to get me there and great coupons to get me started.
Elliott also left her card, just in case I had any questions.
My next week working in Dixon was the real adventure, when I set foot in these places, met their workers, tried their products and actually got a taste of what living in Dixon was like.
I’ve moved or worked in Champaign-Urbana, Albany, Ga. and Ottawa since growing up in Streator, and I have to say Dixon is the first city to greet me face to face with that kind of personal touch and proactive approach.
It truly made me feel welcome.
And once I started making return trips to these businesses brought to life from that magical welcome bag, I realized all these participating businesses really have a good thing going.
When I stepped foot into Dixon, it was a clean slate. I didn’t know where I was going to eat, shop, fill up my car or visit for recreation. My routine would be made through my first positive experiences in the community. Now, I will be happily returning to most of these businesses.
That’s a credit to Bulfer and Elliott, Dixon’s first line of defense.
Dateline Dixon is a weekly column discussing whatever Dixon is discussing.
Derek Barichello has “office hours” from 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesdays at Books on First, 202 W. First St. Feel free to stop to ask questions, suggest story ideas, or just chat.
He also can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-798-4085, ext. 526.