Neighbourhood chitchat: garage party trumps downpour!
Story supplied by Barbara.
The first of three NDA stories - straight from kiwi neighbourhoods...
It is often said that family and friends are an important part of our lives, but in reality neighbours are just as important!
We became involved in Neighbour’s Day through a chain of circumstances. The catalyst was when we met our new neighbours ‘to be’, Edison, Gia and their three children who had arrived from the Philippines the year before. They had suffered a house invasion in their previous rental property and were understandably anxious to move into what they felt was a new and safer neighbourhood. They liked the feel of our street and we did our best to support their application - and it worked!
We invited other neighbours over for a welcome party shortly after they moved in. This led to an article in ‘The Aucklander’ relating the story, highlighting the important role of Neighbourhood Support, for which I am street coordinator, and mentioning the up and coming annual Neighbours Day. From there things kind of snowballed, the article prompted interest from TV 1 who wanted to pick up on our story as part of a documentary series and come and film our Neighbours Day celebrations. At that point there was no turning back! So despite a tight schedule to organise things we all got stuck in; invitations were sent to the entire street, Neighbourhood Support generously provided funding for the all important “sizzlers” and loaned us a gazebo, folding tables and an extra BBQ.
Originally we had planned on holding the BBQ on a small reserve near our place with events and games to entertain the kids in particular. We set up the gazebo at 4.45pm, however 15 minutes later the heavens opened! Neighbours quickly seized the four legs of the gazebo and marched it up the street towards our garage, quite an amusing sight.
At this stage we still weren’t sure how many would turn up and whether they would all fit in so there was a rush to tidy the garage, make more room and procure a second gazebo. At last all was ready and there was nothing left to do but wait and hope for the arrival of guests. We needn’t have worried. By the time the party had reached its climax there were about 30 people squeezed in and the conversations were reaching a crescendo. Apart from the sausages everyone brought along a dish to share. It was quite spectacular because we have so many different cultures in our street.
Despite being involved with Neighbourhood Support we didn’t want the BBQ simply to be a recruiting process. Nevertheless people did enquire about it and by the end of the evening nine other families had signed up bringing the street membership up to nearly 70%.
Even with the initial fluster about having the event in the garage it worked out really well. Everyone had a great time and the last person didn’t leave until about 10pm. Everyone was unanimous about holding an event again next year. I told them it’s their turn next time!
Thanks for sharing your NDA story Barbara!