• Kim Piekos

Welcome to Lake Forest: New Residents Heartened by Friendliness Amid Pandemic

By Kim Piekos

One sunny Wednesday afternoon last August, I opened our mailbox to find a hand-written note from a realtor. A local family was interested in seeing our home in Winnetka and wondered if we would entertain the idea of selling.

Mark and Kim Piekos We weren’t exactly prepared for this. But in five days, we had a contract in hand and needed to find a new home. Having considered moving to Lake Forest years ago, we decided to look here – besides the fact that the town is lovely and we already knew a handful of friendly folks, Lake County taxes looked like a deal compared to Cook County ones! We quickly found an unusual home on a ravine that made us feel like we were on vacation with its beautiful views. On Oct. 30, my husband, Mark, and I bid farewell to our lovely home of the past eight years and drove 25 minutes north with high hopes for our new life as Lake Foresters.

It had dawned on me that moving to a new town as empty-nesters – a first for us -- might make it a bit hard to meet people. Add the fact that we are living in a pandemic and moving to a somewhat remote part of town, and I was beginning to feel like we were potentially sunk. Refusing to give into that feeling, I decided to write notes to nearby neighbors introducing my husband and myself. I figured they may wonder who had moved in after seeing lights in our house; with Covid, they couldn’t exactly stop by and say hello!

We were overwhelmed with the response. Within a few days, we received calls from two neighbors welcoming us and found a lovely note with one of those delicious Nothing Bundt cakes on our porch. When Christmas rolled around, another neighbor welcomed us with a beautiful arrangement of holiday greens and a kind note. We have lived in a few towns on the North Shore over the past 29 years, and we have never experienced this kind of welcome before.

The friendliness of Lake Foresters has been ubiquitous. It’s in the waves we get from people while driving in our neighborhood or walking our dogs. We are stopped time and time again by fellow walkers who engage with us in conversation and dog pleasantries. It’s in the exceedingly helpful staff at Fresh Market, the Post Office, the City of Lake Forest, Lake City Cleaners, Pet People and stores on Market Square. It feels like a small town where people actually take the time to say through their actions and their words, “Hey, I see you, and it’s nice to see you. We’re happy you’re here.“ That matters in this day and age, especially after living through this pandemic. We all need to feel seen and appreciated.

We are exceedingly grateful to live in this wonderful community and are excited about becoming a part of all it has to offer. Thank you to our friendly neighbors who responded to our notes, and thank you to those who have waved, chatted, smiled or helped us out as we learn our way around. You have made such a difference!

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions,

and the roots spring up and make new trees.”

Amelia Earhart