Mary Jane Sokop of
Lake Country Greetings welcomes Cathy Kane of Vintique
Rental in the Town of Oconomowoc to the Lake Country area.
Sokop greets new residents and business owners alike.
TOWN OF OCONOMOWOC - It is Mary Kay Sokop's
mission to make sure no new resident or business owner in the
western Lake Country area goes without a welcome to the
For more than a decade, she has made it her
business to be one of the first friendly faces at the door.
As the one-woman welcoming crew for Lake
Country Greetings, she travels to the city and town of
Oconomowoc, Okauchee, Ixonia, Dousman, Summit and Nashotah while
carrying a red bag full of pertinent information.
There are lists of the area's doctors,
lawyers, dentists, plumbers, electricians, churches, schools and
any other services that newcomers to the area may need.
"I've taken the old-fashioned way of welcoming
new people with a plate of cookies just one step further," she
After being caught in the act of welcoming
business owner Cathy Kane of Vintique Rental to the community,
Sokop sat down with the enterprise to discuss the hospitality
ENTERPRISE: How do you know when someone
new moves to the area?
SOKOP: The realtors let me know. Or by word of
mouth from people I've welcomed before. They let me know that
they have a new neighbor.
I end up welcoming between 25 to 30 new
residents per month.
ENTERPRISE: Why is it important that new
residents and business owners receive your greeting?
SOKOP: I moved 14 times with my husband and
children before settling in Oconomowoc, so I know that moving is
really difficult for people. I had a welcoming visit in several
of those locations, so I'm familiar with the concept and how
ENTERPRISE: Why did you move around so
much? And what are the reasons that other people are sharing for
SOKOP: Our moves were due to my husband's time
with the service and phone company. We lived in Manhattan, New
Jersey, Green Bay, Appleton and Whitefish Bay.
Our most difficult move was moving back to
Milwaukee from the East Coast. This was because it was the only
move that wasn't our choice; my husband's job had a location
Many move because their partner has moved. Or
they move because of a new marriage or divorce, new job, death
in the family or moving out of the house at 18 years old.
ENTERPRISE: How has your job changed in the
past 18 years?
SOKOP: It's more difficult now that people
don't have landlines so I can call ahead. I have to stop by
unannounced. I really considered not doing it anymore, because I
didn't want to barge in on people's personal time, but I
realized that's my issue. If it's not a good time, people are
happy to schedule a time that works.
People continue to answer their doors. I'm not
too threatening; I'm a little old lady with a bag of useful
ENTERPRISE: What does a typical visit
entail? What are some of the more memorable moments?
SOKOP: I provide all of the information on
what the community has to offer. I ask that they only take what
they'll use. The typical meeting takes 45 minutes, but some have
taken four hours.
People have invited me in for coffee or water.
More visits than not end up in a hug.
Sometimes I end up sitting on boxes because
the furniture hasn't arrived. One time I was standing in a
garage with a bird on my head, because the family let the bird
roam free and only caged it at night.
ENTERPRISE: Is this service free of charge?
And how can new residents or those aware of new residents set up
SOKOP: It is free of charge. My sponsors pay
for materials. I can be called at 490-3527 or emailed at
I really do this to make the world a better
place and to share how unique Oconomowoc is. I was the first to
call it "The Heart of Lake Country."