Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Observer

I am always amazed when I sign in at the Heights Observer’s Member Center—where Heights residents contribute stories and we organize the production of the website, weekly e-news and monthly print edition—and I find a story from a new contributor. Often, it’s someone I’ve never met who brings a new perspective and tells me about something going on in our community that I otherwise wouldn’t know about.

We now have more than 800 people who have signed up to contribute to the Heights Observer, and they are essential to our success. With our small staff of a part-time publisher and a part-time editor, we couldn’t possibly produce a newspaper of 24–32 pages each month without the contributions of these volunteers.

Our contributors represent all facets of our community. Some are public relations staff employed by our major institutions. Others are the heads of local organizations or volunteers for their churches or neighborhood groups. Still others are engaged citizens with an eye for the news who want to help tell this community’s unique stories.

In addition to community members, we occasionally have unpaid interns who gain valuable experience in journalism and community organizing by working with us. We have been fortunate over the past year to work with several students.

During the 2012–13 school year, Kendra Dean, a graduate student with the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, worked on community outreach programs and contributed stories, while Simone Quartell, a journalism student at Cleveland State University, also contributed several stories.

In May, we hosted Emily Brock and Richard Wilson, who completed their Heights High senior projects with us.

This summer we have three journalism interns: Alastair Pearson, a Heights resident and senior at St. Ignatius High School; Simone Jasper, a former Heights resident and sophomore at Elon University; and Camille Davis, a Heights resident and senior at Ohio University. In addition, Chris Hanson, a recent graduate of Cleveland State University’s urban studies program, who interned with us before, is working on community outreach programs.

We have 10 wonderful professionals who make up our editorial advisory committee, and 15 volunteer editors who take great pains each month to help ensure that the stories that are submitted, are not only  grammatically correct, but also are readable and accurate.

Once the paper is printed and delivered to our office, about 20 volunteers deliver the newspaper to the many locally owned businesses and gathering spots in our community and the surrounding area.

We are so grateful to our volunteers for helping us bring the Heights Observer to CH-UH residents each month during the last five years. To show our appreciation, we invite all our volunteers to join us at Lopez Southwest Kitchen, 2196 Lee Road, on Monday, July 29, for light refreshments, margaritas and a cash bar. The event runs from 5:30–7:30 p.m. and is free to Observer volunteers, but you must R.S.V.P. Call us at 216-320-1423, send an e-mail to info@futureheights.org, or register at www.heightsobservervolunteers.eventbrite.com) to let us know you are coming.

We want to meet the people behind the name at the bottom of each article, letter and opinion; the editors, proofreaders, and distributors of the newspaper. We hope you want to meet us—the publisher, editor, and members of the FutureHeights Board of Directors, our graphic designers, ad sales director and the editorial advisory committee—too. Bring your questions, comments, and ideas for making the Heights Observer even better. (Craig Summers, owner of Lopez and creator of those quirky ads, might make an appearance, too.)

Mark your calendar now, RSVP, and join us for a “meet and greet.” See you at Lopez!

Deanna Bremer Fisher

Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.

Read More on Opening the Observer
Volume 6, Issue 7, Posted 1:44 PM, 07.01.2013