Amber Kral enjoys being a familiar face in her small community of Osakis. A nurse who is currently taking a training course to become a first responder, she relishes the connections with people in town.
Amber and her husband, Matt, have owned True Service Heating and Cooling in Osakis, for 19 years. To her, it is extremely important to support your local community and keep small business alive. And she does practice what she preaches.
“I really try to take advantage of local business. If you look around Osakis, you might be surprised at what you can get,” Kral said. She takes on a personal challenge — to get as many of her needs in Osakis, which means fewer trips to Alexandria or other communities.
She appreciates the relationships built with people locally, especially the personal greetings when she enters a store. Kral points out several businesses in town that opened recently, such as the new coffee shop and a clothing and décor shop. She is excited to see renovations being completed at the former bowling alley, which is slated to reopen in 2020.
Kral worked at the Chamber of Commerce of Osakis for six years before she went back to college for nursing in 2014. She completed the LPN and RN program in four years at Alex Tech, while working and raising their children, Joy (13), Kolbe (11), and Trent (7). Kral is a nurse at CentraCare – Long Prairie Hospital and soon plans to be a member of the Osakis First Responders.
“I want to help out more and with a nursing background, it is a good fit,” Kral said. Her husband, an Osakis native, is a firefighter for the Osakis Fire Department.
Kral, who is originally from Rushford, Minn., moved to Osakis to coach volleyball for grades 7-8, and ended up staying in the community upon meeting Matt. She worked as a paraprofessional for the Osakis school district with special needs students for six years, opened a home daycare for 1 1/2 years, and has also worked for the Pub and O-Town of Osakis as a waitress, cook and bartender. Her family and seven dogs live in rural Osakis and hunting is one of their family pastimes. They bow hunt and coyote hunt – and Kral is the only woman in the group who has shot a coyote.
“We are going to New Zealand to hunt red stag this June,” said Kral, who now owns her first rifle. She did not take home a deer this hunting season, but her two oldest children both shot bucks.
Another passion of Kral’s is bringing about awareness of disabilities. Her youngest son, Trent, was diagnosed with autism in September; although she recognized symptoms much earlier, in part due to her background working with kids with special needs. Although he looked “normal,” she noticed he did not reach developmental milestones as a baby, and later developed repetitive behaviors. In public, people can be rude, staring, making mean comments, which is very upsetting; although she still takes her son to activities and places. She hopes by advocating for autism, people will be more understanding and not be rude to those who are different.
She also does book work for their heating and cooling business, takes turns hosting a Bible study group in her home, and is ready to lend a helping hand whenever she can, especially helping with community events. She hopes to become more involved in events around Osakis, as her schedule allows.
“I like to do things for my town. It helps keep us connected,” Kral said.