Tales from the Welcome Wagon

Welcome Wagon is a subcircle within the Membership Circle of POCA. As a group, we like to think that Welcome Wagon is for new members, like the initial intake is for a new patient.  It’s a chance to connect, listen to a part of someone’s life and encourage participation.  Every new member gets a call within their first month of joining POCA by someone from Welcome Wagon.   Here some highlights from the group:

“For every 10-12 calls I make, I talk to at least one patient member who is actively volunteering at their local clinic–doing laundry, answering the phones or watering the plants. I love it when a new member tells me their story about why they joined POCA.  I often ask members to share their story in the Introductions section on the forums.  It’s always nice to find a story posted in the forums, that a new member told me over the phone just a few days before.” -Roppie, employed punk at Manchester Acupuncture Studio

“I love to have the opportunity to talk to people new to POCA. They are all fired up and excited about what we are doing and how POCA helps them and their communities.  I enjoy talking to acupuncturists when they want to learn more about opening a POCA clinic themselves. It keeps things fresh for me about why we do what we do and gives me a monthly shot of energy to keep-on keeping on. I feel really lucky to be a part of Welcome Wagon.” -Nicole, punk + owner at Jersey Community Acupuncture

“Have you read the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows? It’s full of made-up words for very real things. Sonder, for example, is: “n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.” I admit it, I sometimes have to push myself to make my Welcome Wagon calls. Some days it takes a lot of energy to call a bunch of strangers in the middle of their day to talk to them about POCA and I feel like I’m moving through molasses as I pick up the phone to make that first call.  Once I get there, I’m always glad I’ve done it, for how it reinforces my sense of sonder. Talking to other punks who are just starting out (“Can you check out my website and let me know if I’m forgetting anything?” “Yes, I’ve been reading on the forums every day and POCATv is amazing,”) talking to patients who receive care from friends and acquaintances hundreds of miles from me, in places I’ll probably never go … at its best, sonder is a poignant re-affirmation of our interconnectedness. Which is what POCA’s all about. Which is why I’m happy to be on this Wagon.” – Lisa B, punk + owner at Guelph Community Acupuncture

“My favorite WW call was to a member who did a lot of traveling for work. After she went to Providence Community Acupuncture, she made it a part her travels to visit the local CA. Another favorite  WW call led me to a person who was so inspired, they want to start a patient forum section: What’s your CA story? CA had dramatically changed their life.  I wished I had a recording of these calls as there was so much more excitement and sharing that happened.” James Lorr, Urbana Acupuncture in Urbana Illinois (currently hiring if you are good punk looking for a good job)

“These days, my usual disposition ranges somewhere between pessimistic and blase – not exactly what you’re looking for in a Welcome Wagon volunteer, right? But my POCA-self is an inspired, optimistic and innocent being, and making calls for Welcome Wagon is a wormhole to that being. Many of my work days (and late nights – I love making West Coast calls) have been brightened by short conversations with patients, who are nearly always surprised that I, too, am a patient. Some members are eager to tell me how much they love _______ (insert the name of a clinic, a punk, a front desk person). For many, though, it’s simply a change in their tone of voice; it brightens and loses its reserve once they realize who I am and why I’m calling (and, that I’m not asking for money 🙂 Often what I hear and feel is actual joy, as we strangers who are not strangers connect. It’s another manifestation of the fractal.” –Michelle, patient at Providence Community Acupuncture

“I’ve had many a great Welcome Wagon interactions with new POCA members.   I talked with one volunteer of a clinic in Colorado who ended up being one my partner’s closest friend’s big sister (we put this together two weeks later).  I also remember talking to another volunteer from a New Mexico clinic whose whole family goes to OAP as patients.  She also knew a totally random buddy of mine in Oakland.  Mostly, it’s the connections that get me – the ones that are already formed before the calls are made.  I talked with some students also, that’s pretty rewarding because whilst they’re really tired and brain fogged, they still muster some wicked excitement about finding POCA and all its amazing fractals of information and support.  There was also an at-the-time pretty frazzled looking to be a CA clinic owner who I just got to meet at the last POCAfest; she was less frazzled and I got to spend the night couchsurfing on her floor.  I even even got to welcome an old classmate.  Good times.” -Cait, employee Punk @ Oakland Acupuncture Project/ WW volunteer alum/current Clinic Success volunteer

Many POCA volunteers have offered their time to Welcome Wagon.  Please post some of your highlights below.  

Author: Roppy

MAS super-punk since 2010

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  1. The Welcome Wagon is amazing, thank you all. And thanks, Lisa B.– I’ve been contemplating sonder since I was a kid, without ever having a single word to describe those thoughts.

  2. I love, love this post! Thanks to all the WWers current, past, and future! I’s nice to hear how it is beneficial for you as well as for them–a dose of enthusiasm for your own work. Especially love this line: “My POCA-self is an inspired, optimistic and innocent being…”

    And yes, exactly what Molly said. I used to live under an airport flightpath and would have the feeling of sonder looking up at the planes. Now whenever I fly I think of it as we coast in over different neighborhoods. And,now also looking at the pins on the ever filling POCA map, dreaming of folks in our thousands of recliners.

  3. It’s rare that organizations are able to connect with their members on such a personal level without asking for anything more than “being a part of it all”.

    POCA is made up almost completely of volunteers, and the Welcome Wagon is only one place in POCA where volunteers make a difference in the members’ POCA experience. Thank you for your lovely stories!

  4. I just wanted to share that when I joined I payed only what I could… Which wasn’t much. But it was so great to get that phone call welcoming me to POCA. I never got that kind of welcome from my state acupuncture association and I paid hundreds in dues last year!
    I was just getting into reading some of the forums too when Elizabeth called me and I was so excited to share all that I was discovering about POCA.
    I wasn’t much of a believer but by the suggestion of my mentor I joined and started reading the blogs. I didn’t know until then that CA was completely in alignment with all my life’s dreams goals and aspirations. Now I am a true community acupuncture convert!

  5. I just got off the phone with a patient from Providence Community Acupuncture. I left her a message half an hour ago and she called me back. That doesn’t usually happen. She thanked me for being a part of this organization and told me that acupuncture is the only thing that helps her with her chronic health condition. When she lived in NY she paid $70 and it limited her visits. A call like that reminds me why we do what we do. Who can ever give that up?