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Columnist: Make sure newcomers are properly welcomed

By Carlina Villalpando Managing Editor carlina.villalpando@dailytimes.com | Posted Nov 29, 2014

It’s been a while since I’ve been new to a town. As I’ve been preparing for my upcoming move, I’ve done a lot of Googling about my new home in Tyler and a lot more lamenting about everything I will be leaving behind.

Anyone who’s been a newcomer can attest: Moving is hard. Making connections and finding community in a strange place can be challenging. But Kerrville has a unique warmth, and its people have a special hospitality that make newcomers feel welcomed.

We also have the service of the official Kerr County Greeters, a local service that I learned this week has existed in different forms and operated by several local residents for more than 40 years. The service now is operated by Kristin Mudry, who said she monthly delivers about 30 welcome baskets to area newcomers.

The baskets are free and include home-baked cookies, along with information about the area, including church information, restaurants, recreational opportunities and referrals to recommended local service providers. Although Mudry operates the service as a business, with select, long-established businesses paying a subscription fee to be included, Mudry said the service is her ministry.  “I try to be a resource to help listen to their needs,” Mudry said. It’s a real blessing to get to do it.”

When Mudry first moved to Kerrville from Houston, she was happy to be escaping the corporate world and concentrate on raising her family, but she said didn’t anticipate how much the move would affect her.  “I lived there my whole life, and I didn’t know until we uprooted and moved here that moving was going to be a really big deal for me,” Mudry said. “I felt disconnected. I worked hard to establish relationships, but it was hard.”  Mudry was one of the many Kerrville residents who was welcomed to town with a basket.

Mudry took on the service about two years ago. She said her goal is to make the baskets extra special, with personal touches. She enjoys listening to people’s needs, learning about their lives and helping connect them to people and resources that will make their lives in Kerr County happy and easier.

In addition to the referral items and helpful information about the area, Mudry said she enjoys being a friend and representing the many other friendly faces newcomers will encounter as they get settled.

“I just try to be a resource. It’s an extension of hospitality on behalf of many organizations and people in the community,” Mudry said. “In Kerrville, there’s such an outpouring of warmth and kindness in the community. Kerrville nurtures this in people.”

Mudry constantly is in search of newcomers to greet. She collects names through various sources and relies on locals to send her names to her email address at kerrvillewelcomewagon@yahoo.com or by calling 257-0599.

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION OF KERRVILLE DAILY TIMES