Matt deGrood

Most weeks of the year, the bulk of our reporting time is spent tracking down the biggest news stories happening across Fort Bend County. Some days, that might be reaching out to elected officials in Missouri City to learn more about their city manager search, or speaking with developers about a countywide housing shortage.

But by far, my favorite stories to write are those that come along more rarely – the stories about county residents who might typically escape the limelight, but who have served important roles in changing the world for the better.

Our Star of the Year story this week about Rhonda Kuykendall is a perfect example of this type of article.

It’s never an easy task deciding who in Fort Bend County is most deserving of being singled out as the paper’s Star of the Year. In recent years, we’ve even opted for a more general honor – writing about healthcare workers last year, for instance.

While there are no doubt many residents worthy of the honor, we are hopeful that readers will see why Kuykendall is such a wonderful representative of all the good work that is happening across Fort Bend County, much of it spurred by unsung heroes just like her.

Ever since first putting her efforts behind changing the statute of limitations for crimes involving child sex trafficking back in 2007, Kuykendall has devoted countless hours toward helping those without a voice as she explained in an interview with the Star this week.

Today, she spends her time volunteering with Child Advocates of Fort Bend, the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office’s Human Trafficking Team and elsewhere. She also works with Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates.

Volunteers and officials who have spent time alongside Kuykendall have praised her dedication and determination to make the world a better place, and give voice to survivors of child sex trafficking like herself.

In every community that I’ve covered, if you look hard enough, you’ll always find someone or someones like Kuykendall – an average resident like you or me who devotes much of their time and energy toward an issue near and dear to their hearts.

Most of the time, that effort pays off in a big way. For Kuykendall, the list of accomplishments is quite lengthy. Whether it was her first success back in 2007 or her most recent work surrounding eight bills in the latest Texas Legislative session, Kuykendall’s long hours across several organizations has resulted in tangible changes to law and the lives of Fort Bend residents.

Elected officials and board presidents by virtue of their position show up in countless news articles, both here and across the nation. But if you look behind every vote, it takes someone working hard for little or no pay to bring forth most laws, ordinances and policy proposals both in Austin and in cities across the county.

Today, in the holiday spirit, we’ve taken the time to recognize one such special individual. But it’s our hope that readers understand Kuykendall isn’t working alone.

If you want to know how to get involved and change the world, you’re best served tracking down whoever the Kuykendall is of an organization. There’s always someone, and they have good advice and are always ready to help.

Here’s hoping you enjoyed our Star of the Year article this year, and that you keep an eye out in 2022 for more residents just like Kuykendall. They make the world a better place, and we look forward to recognizing more of them in the years to come.

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