First Impressions

If you were visiting your community for the first time, what would you think?

We can become over-familiar with the community in which we live, so we often have a hard time seeing what visitors and newcomers see.

The First Impressions program remedies this issue.



First Impressions offers volunteers from two similar communities the opportunity to do a “secret shop” of each other’s community.

The volunteers visit the other community unannounced, then, following the participant guidebook, document and report their first impressions. More information about the process can be found in the Program Materials section.


What types of things might be brought to light through First Impressions?

Things We Know About our Community

  • The best pizza in the county is served on the corner of Main St. and Park Ln.
  • The elementary school has some of the most caring teachers
  • Main St. through downtown is the quickest way to work every day and the route you’ve taken for ten years
  • Mary, the owner of the coffee shop, will give you the Wi-Fi password if you just ask

Things Visitors Notice

  • The peeling paint, cigarette butts, overflowing trash bins, and minimal parking outside
  • The rusty chain-link fence and broken swing outside
  • That it is drab—no trees, colorful awnings, planters, benches, or flags or banners on the light posts
  • No sign for, and therefore no, free Wi-Fi