Hurricane Laura response brings out best of Fort Bend County 

New Reporter Stefan Modrich is embracing covering the area’s cultural melting pot. (Photo by Landan Kuhlmann)

Conventional wisdom, for whatever it’s worth, tends to lean toward a consensus that there’s a time and a place for everything.

And I’m very grateful to finally be able to call Houston home and to be covering your local communities here in Fort Bend County.

You’ve no doubt been wanting to put a face to the new name you’ve seen online and in last week’s paper. My name is Stefan Modrich, and in my new role as a reporter here at the Fort Bend Star, I hope to make a good impression on you, dear reader, and to become a conduit for your voice.

I find myself at home working in Fort Bend not only because of my love of Buc-ee’s brisket, chicken tikka masala and matcha bubble tea, but because I feel like I belong among this diverse set of ethnic groups and communities, a place that is both forward-thinking and accepting but also values tradition and history.

I have always been a voracious reader and consumer of news, going back to the time I read the Chicago Tribune and The Wall Street Journal at the breakfast table. As a fourth grader it was only the Tribune’s sports and comics section that drew my attention, but it didn’t take long for me to open myself up to a vast media landscape that continues to grow and evolve in ways that are nearly impossible to predict.

Those same characteristics have defined, in some way, nearly every place I’ve lived, whether it was growing up in Chicago, where I was born and raised, going to college at Arizona State University (Go Devils!) or living abroad in Croatia and having tremendous opportunities to travel to Spain, France, Hungary, Slovakia, and many other places previously unknown only outside of a map.

I’m proud of my family’s origin story and ancestry, and I know so many of the immigrant families in Fort Bend are as well. So I look forward to speaking with those of you who may not even realize yet just how historically significant your presence is in this richly multicultural place and its implications for a more truly diverse nation in the years and decades to come.

I’m also very fortunate to have started my journey in Texas with The Brownsville Herald, where I was a sports reporter covering the Rio Grande Valley, a border community that has strong and ever-present ties to the Houston area.

Moving here from the Valley during a global pandemic and Hurricane Hanna was quite a difficult obstacle to overcome. But I’m happy to admit that during some of the more trying and challenging periods of life in quarantine, I found solace in being reminded what one of my interview subjects, ESPN producer called the hard-working student-athletes and families they met in Brownsville — “the greatest Americans I’ve ever met.”

The pandemic and the resulting crises have not relented, of course. And yet already, I am in awe of the melting pot of people in Fort Bend, from Missouri City to Kendleton and everywhere in between, for their resiliency and their instincts to look out for one another.

Whether you or someone you know is a new TikTok star breaking out onto the scene and going viral, or you and your family are raising chickens, starting a garden, or helping volunteer at a food bank to help your neighbors, please share them with me. Are you an essential worker? A first responder? I want to hear from you.

And likewise, if you feel you aren’t getting a fair shake during a time when so many are struggling, I also want to hear from you. As members of the press, our job, as it was famously detailed by Chicago journalist Finley Peter Dunne in his portrayal of the fictional character Mr. Dooley, “is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

When you see my name in this space, I will ask you to respect the distinction between my reporting and my opinion and hold me to the same high standards I hold myself. My responsibility to you outside of this column is to provide rigorous, unbiased reporting, and it’s something I always have and always will strive for no matter where my byline appears.

I will also ask you to continue to support my colleagues and I through word-of-mouth and by letting us know when our work is meaningful to you, as well as when you think we fell short and could have done better. If you have a book or movie recommendation or if you see me out and about on a running trail or at a restaurant and would like to say hello from a safe, social distance, you’re more than welcome to.

I hope you’ll reach out to me when you can to let me know what’s on your mind, and what I can do to bring light to the concerns and the triumphs alike of this diverse and vibrant place.

You can contact Stefan on Twitter @StefanJModrich or via email

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