HOWDY–I’m Kristin the Welcome Lady. In April 2013, my daughter and I took over the welcoming service for Kerr County, Texas. Prior to our involvement, a long line of dedicated community members had served the area going back to the 1950s. Back then, when women cared mainly for home and family, it wasn’t unusual for neighbor ladies to bring baked goods and baskets of goodies to newcomers. Over coffee, they’d chat about reliable doctors, dentists, vets, mechanics, how to get involved in hobby groups and churches, and a host of other topics to help the newcomer become established in the community. It was the personal hand of welcome to a stranger.
In many communities, visits like this are a quaint idea from the past, but the tradition remains unbroken here in Kerr County. Previous welcoming service was provided in turn by a mother/daughter team (Myrtle & Billie), two friends (Billie & Patsy), a mother and her daughter-in-law (Patsy & Janie), and a husband/wife team (James & Melissa). It was not unusual for children (Emily), spouses (Dowell) and other friends (Tamara, Rosemary, Sharon, Liz, Sandra, Betty, Sally) to get recruited to help prepare welcome kits. The form of welcome has included phone calls, personal visits, mailers stuffed with coupons, goodie bags, and welcome baskets. What has remained consistent is the act of welcome with an abundant outpouring of goodwill to the newcomers of our community. The reason the service has been called Kerr County Greeters throughout the years is because it serves Kerr County, and many folks have continued the greeting.
When our family moved to the Texas Hill Country to escape big-city life, we were welcomed by Janie, the Welcome Lady who served at that time. She sought us out and prepared material to help us get acquainted with the area. She personally delivered it to our home. Having lived all my life in a city with 4,500,000+ population, it was a bit of a shock and a pleasant surprise to be sought and personally greeted in this way. It made quite an impression.
A few years later, when the opportunity to assume the role of Welcome Lady arose, it seemed like a wonderful way to “pay it forward” and keep this local tradition alive. It is a pleasure and a blessing to welcome about 500 newcomer families each year. I try to be a resource and a kind face to folks as they’re getting established in Kerr County. I feel blessed to utilize my experience and skills in a way that feels personally meaningful; plus it is fun to greet so many interesting newcomers.
After my daughter graduated and left home, I flew solo for a while. Then I got a call from someone I’d brought a welcome basket to a few years prior (Tamara) who wondered if I needed an extra pair of hands. To which I answered–DEFINITELY! Then a couple of other folks offered to help, and now 2-3 helpers assist in the basket-making production line each month. Phew! Making 500 welcome baskets & visits each year is quite an undertaking!