When we began considering a story about neighborhood leaders, our thoughts first went to the obvious – City Councilmen, School Board members, State legislators and other elected types.

As a community, we selected these people as our leaders, for the most part because they asked us for the opportunity. And the nature of their positions allows them relatively easy access to the media: If they do something outstanding, someone somewhere in the media probably will take notice and let the rest of us hear about it.

These people may be heroes in a certain sense, but they definitely are not “unsung.” And realistically, they don’t need the Advocate’s help to get their job done, although I’m sure they wouldn’t mind a little assistance from us now and again.

However, an awful lot of us weren’t elected to a big office and have a difficult time getting the attention of a big newspaper or television station. Not that our event or cause isn’t worthy. There are just a lot of people like us competing for a very limited block of media time and space.

True, you may be president of your school’s PTA or publicity chairman for a neighborhood non-profit, but if you’ve ever tried to obtain publicity for an event that doesn’t involve bloodshed, racial taunting or pork-barrel politics, you know what I’m talking about.

That’s why the people we’ve called “Unsung Heroes” in our cover story this month are so impressive. Even if the media turns up at one of their events, you probably won’t find them jostling in front of a camera trying to get personal publicity.

You’re more likely to find them handing out cookies or painting banners or washing dishes or any of the hundreds of mundane tasks that really determine whether an event is successful or not.

We can count on these people to roll up their sleeves and get something done rather than spend a lot of time thinking of ways to look good without getting dirty.

Some of the people we’ve profiled in our cover story I know personally, others I know by reputation and still others I don’t know at all. But to me, that is one of the great things about our newspaper: You don’t have to be a bigwig to obtain publicity from the Advocate. In fact, we kind of prefer that you aren’t.

What matters most to me as a neighborhood resident, and to me as a neighborhood parent, and to me as a neighborhood businessman, is that people come to understand our neighborhood isn’t just about shootings and poverty, as it often is portrayed in other media.

Instead, as those of us who live here know, our neighborhood is – or at least should be – defined by “unsung heroes,” only a very few of whom ever see the bright light of publicity.

There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of other “unsung heroes” in our neighborhood, some of whom I know and many of whom you read about in our pages each month. To me, the student who has won her school’s science fair is just as important as the millions of dollars being poured into the juvenile justice center on the other side of town.

Although the circumstances clearly are different, both events impact a lot of lives, and we need to know about both. And I can’t help but believe that a little positive recognition for one of today’s students may help him or her avoid a trip to the justice center somewhere down the road.

And that’s why we’ve made it our goal here at the Advocate to shed a little light on some heretofore “unsung heroes” not only this month, but every month. I’m glad they’re out there carrying a part of my load.

We Need Office Space

One of the by-products of growth is the need for additional office space, and that’s our situation today.

During the next few months, we’ll be looking for approximately 2,500 square feet for expansion of our offices. The more open the space, the better for our use. And naturally, we intend to stay in the neighborhood.

Because we’re a relatively low-budget operation, we intend to keep our lease costs as low as possible. But just like everyone else, we’re concerned about safety and appearances for our staff and visitors, and we would like to remain as centrally located as possible.

If you know of a lease space we should investigate, please FAX the information to me at 341-0204. Please include the cost of the space and a layout.

Thanks for your help.