Every April, Advocate Community Newspapers celebrates our anniversary by celebrating the achievements of a neighborhood resident who is – like out newspapers – dedicated to improving life in our neighborhoods.

That’s no small accomplishment when you consider how busy most of us are.

If you’re like me, you probably have barely enough time to improve life in your own family, much less spend a whole lot of time worrying about the other families that comprise our neighborhood.

For example, my neighborhood association met tonight, and I wasn’t there. I wanted to be, but…

That’s why the Advocate Award means so much to us.

Our newspapers do a pretty good job of talking about what needs to be done to improve our neighborhoods, but the people we honor with our annual Advocate Award actually are making good things happen.

This year’s honoree, Patti Clapp, is one of those rare finds: She simply enjoys rolling up her sleeves and making a difference.

Clapp has a family and responsibilities of her own. But she decided to sign up for a job that is probably as important as any in this City, but quite possibly is one of the most thankless around – school board member.

This is an elected position, of course, carrying with it all of the “perks” of local public office – second-guessing by neighbors, long hours attending dull but important public hearings, no-win decisions certain to antagonize a large number of people, and virtually no compensation for your efforts.

After all, everyone – and I do mean everyone – knows exactly what’s best for our children, don’t they?

But while most of us talk the talk, only a few people such as Clapp are willing to walk the walk when it comes to setting the agenda to educate our children.

Whether or not you agree with Clapp’s positions over the years, it’s important that thoughtful people such as Clapp remain willing to serve on our school board and take responsibility for the nuts and bolts of our children’s education.

She is frank about the toll her public service took on her family. But I think the accomplishments of her children speak well about her personal impact on her family, as well as her community-wide impact on our educational system.

Congratulations and thanks, Patti. Please keep up the good work.

We Need To Hear From You

You receive this newspaper free of charge every month because our advertisers foot the bill in hopes you’ll patronize them.

But one of the most frustrating aspects of publishing this newspaper is convincing prospective advertisers that people actually care about the neighborhood news we print.

This statement may seem unusual to our loyal readers, but I can assure you that selling advertising in the Advocate is no simple task.

In fact, many of our neighborhood shopkeepers and business people don’t live in our neighborhood – they commute from Mesquite or Garland or Richardson or other remote points to work each day, and their lives simply don’t revolve around the quality of our public schools or the future of White Rock Lake.

And many of them simply don’t believe that a newspaper thriving on neighborhood and school news, presented in an admittedly noncontroversial format, has much of a place in today’s busy households.

Naturally, we think they’re wrong, but prospective advertisers expect us to put up a valiant argument – our time and our money are tied up in our newspapers.

But many of these business people often don’t have a chance to hear directly from you, our readers. After all, it’s not common that you walk into a store and begin striking up conversations about how great the Advocate is (although you certainly have my encouragement to do so).

So beginning this month, in an effort to learn more about our readers and pass this information along to our prospective and existing advertisers, I’d like to invite you to write us a short note about why the Advocate is important to you and your neighbors.

We’ll be selecting one or two contributors each month for use in promotional materials. And of course, those selected will be showered with neighborhood-oriented gifts – more specifically, an Advocate T-shirt and perhaps a free meal or two from a participating neighborhood restaurant.

Just give us your honest opinion about the Advocate, the job we’re doing, and the (hopefully) positive effect we’re having on your life and that of our neighborhood.

I realize that writing a letter takes time, but we can sure use your help.

Thanks. I look forward to hearing from you.