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Welcoming committee would be asset to community

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Last week, the News published an article by guest columnist Shawn Jones about the possible formation of a welcoming committee in Perry County. The community outreach group would serve to identify and support individuals and families new to the area and would be created by Quality of Life, a subgroup of the Perry County Development Corp.

According to Jones, the group is currently working to create such a committee. We hope they do.

In her column, Jones writes openly and honestly about the loneliness and isolation she felt after moving to Perry County from St. Joseph, Mich.: “When we moved here, we knew no one or anything about Tell City or Perry County. All of our family lives up north. It was very hard for me to adjust.” Her husband and three sons adjusted very well, she said, but she struggled to find a sense of belonging. “I, on the other hand, found it very difficult,” she wrote. “I have always been a stay-at-home mom and never worked outside the home. So, I felt very alone and sad.”

That was 10 years ago. Today, Jones not only feels happy and at home here, she is the driving force behind the creation of a welcoming committee. “With a little help, we can make anyone who moves here love to be here, just as I do – and be glad to call Tell City and Perry County home,” she said.

In the past, the News published a series of articles, sponsored by the Quality of Life Committee and written by Perry County residents who moved here, chose to remain here or returned after living elsewhere. The guest columnists wrote mostly of positive first experiences, relaying warm anecdotes that evoked feelings of inclusion and acceptance. But what about those who move to our county and feel as Jones did? What a difference a welcoming committee could make.

Many of us who were born and raised here may find it hard to relate to the feelings Jones conveys. We’ve always been a part of the rich fabric of this area, with family names that reach back generations to Perry or neighboring counties. Our friends and relatives are a regular part of our days. We watch our children, our nieces and nephews and our grandchildren grow up and explore the same places we did. Our weekends and holidays are spent surrounded by those we hold dear. It brings fullness to our lives and a security to our days that we often take for granted.

Alternately, there are those of us who are transplants from other towns, other states, and other countries. For some of us, the transition is a smooth one. We adjust with ease; hit the ground running in a new job or new school. We put down fresh roots and find ourselves quickly welcomed and accepted in the community.

But for some of us, the transition to a new life in a new place is fraught with difficulty. We find it hard to navigate through this small, tightly knit community. We feel like outsiders. Without a sense of place and the security of nearby family and friends, we feel, as Jones did, alone and sad.

It’s those among us in this group who would benefit the most from Jones’ idea.

Of her meeting with Tell City Mayor Barbara Ewing, Jones writes, “I explained to her what I went through and would like to help to make sure no one else would go through that.” She accepted Ewing’s offer to attend a Quality of Life meeting and became a member of the group, pitching her idea and working to bring it to fruition.

We support the idea of a welcoming committee in Perry County that would help newcomers find their way and feel at home. It would be a great addition to the resources we currently have. Perry County can be a friendly place with a lot to offer. We’re a county rich in history and tradition, proudly celebrating our bicentennial year.

If you’re new to our area, welcome! We’re glad you chose our community to call home. Need a little help settling in? Our chamber of commerce and the convention and visitors bureau are great places to start. Stop by the News office and introduce yourself. Pick up our free annual resource directory, Discover Perry County, or Adventures, an annual tourism guide to southern Indiana. Our community is small but there is always something going on. Look through the News community events and social calendar to find something that may interest you. Whatever your interests or skills, there is a club or organization that will welcome your involvement.

If you are a Perry County native or a naturalized transplant, take notice of new individuals or families who relocate here. Take a few moments to introduce yourself and welcome them. Offer to show them around. Invite them out for coffee or lunch. Sometimes the littlest things can make the biggest impacts.

Our view: Editorials reflect the opinions of the newspaper.
Your view: Tell us what you think. Send e-mail to us at editor@perrycountynews.com or mail your comments to P.O. Box 309, Tell City, IN 47586.