Ever wonder what the main driving force is behind getting the Appalachian Voice to your local news rack? Literally, an all volunteer force drives its distribution, by helping to deliver papers to various locations. How does the Appalachian Voice get distributed across the central and southern Appalachian region? The Voice is unique in the fact that it is distributed entirely by volunteers. These 68+ dedicated individuals and groups distribute 75,000 copies across seven states, including NC, VA, WV, TN, AL, KY and DC. These volunteers join together from all over the central and southern Appalachian Mountains and are responsible for getting the voice of this region into your hands.
The volunteers join together from all over our mountain region and are responsible for getting the voice of Appalachia into your hands.
Harvard Ayers, one of the founders of Appalachian Voices, has been a committed distributor of the paper since the first issue was printed in 1995. Harvard would drive from Boone, NC to Williamsburg, VA, where the paper was originally printed, and pick up 40,000 copies. At that time, distribution was done almost entirely by Harvard, with help from others, such as the late Arthur Smith. Harvard now distributes 23,000 papers to individuals in the Tri-Cities area (Kingsport, Bristol, and Johnson City) and in Virginia, including Abington and Damascus. Of the 23,000 papers delivered, Catherine Murray distributes 5,000, Gabrielle Zeiger distributes 5,000, Steve Brooks distributes 6,000, Ed Clark distributes 800 and Dave Patrick distributes 800. Harvard distributes the remaining papers to various locations in North Carolina, including Boone, Blowing Rock, and West Jefferson. Harvard says, “The reason I was moved to establish the Voice was that I felt the major enviro[mental] groups didn’t reach out enough to the common person. We tend to be too exclusive and the movement needed a free paper with minimal ad[vertising] content . . . And most importantly, we feel it makes a difference for the average person.” Harvard continued by saying, “Lenny Kohm, Appalachian Voices’ Campaign Director, was the inspiration for the ‘get it out to the masses’ philosophy that demands large numbers for free and distributed in places where more of the public will read it, i.e. it’s more than preaching to the choir. As Lenny says, we are ‘building a bigger choir’.”
Brenda Huggins, Vice Chair of Appalachian Voices’ Board of Directors, and her husband, Larry Huggins, have been volunteering and distributing the paper since 2003.
Brenda first learned of the paper and decided to get involved when, she says, “On one of my hiking trips, I picked up a copy of Appalachian Voice, read it, was impressed by the work being done, became a member and eventually a volunteer.” She continues, “My first volunteer assignment was to fold papers and stick on mailing labels.
We’ve come a long way since then!” Brenda and Larry travel to Boone to pick up their bundles of Appalachian Voice and then distribute to various other locations in North Carolina, including Morganton, Hickory, and Newton. By the time Brenda and Larry are done, they have distributed 2,400 papers to grocery stores, libraries, restaurants, offices, one a car wash and one one barber shop, where Brenda says, “the patrons love the paper.” Brenda and Larry realize the importance of their volunteer work because as Brenda says, “I want my grandchildren to have the opportunity to enjoy the things I value—scenic hiking trails, clean air, and clean water. Volunteering for Appalachian Voices gives me an opportunity to work for these and other environmental issues.”
Kim Greene McClure has been distributing Appalachian Voice since 1998. She was originally drawn to the paper after seeing one of her favorite views of Table Rock on the cover. When she learned that Harvard, one of her former professor at Appalachian State University, was a founding father of the organization, she called him up to get involved. Kim drives to Boone to pick up her bundles and distributes 2,500 papers all over Lenoir, NC. She says, “I also take Appalachian Voice wherever I go, such as doctor offices, hairdresser, restaurants, dentist, etc. and leave a copy in every waiting room.” After growing up in this area, moving away and finding her way back, Kim says, “When I was away, I missed the nature that is unique to this area. I enjoy nature everywhere, but there’s something special about the Appalachian region.” She continued by saying, “Getting the word out, by helping distribute the Voice, is important in protecting the Appalachians and the surrounding areas. Many people don’t know about the devastation of mountaintop removal or coal-fired power plants. I need to do what I can to bring it to the public’s attention.”
Jere Bidwell has been a volunteer distributing the paper since 2002. Jere teams up with Jennifer Stertzer to distribute 3,000 papers around Charlottesville, VA. If another volunteer is not passing by the Charlottesville area and can’t drop off the papers, Jere and Jennifer have on occasion driven all the way down to Boone, NC to pick up their copies. Jere works for the IRC (International Rescue Committee), a non-profit that settles refugees in the Virginia area, and was naturally drawn to Appalachian Voice as a non-profit publication. A lover of hiking and camping, Jere says, “I strongly feel for organizations that are tied to environmental causes.” He continued by saying, “I truly believe that there are essential events that are not as well known as here in central Virginia and the Voice does a great job at getting the word out there. The Voice is a way in which people discover.”
James and Aimee Randolph distribute 1,400 copies in the Chattanooga, TN area. They became volunteers in 2004, when their son, J.W. Randolph, began to work for Appalachian Voices. James says, “As his parents, it was a way to support his efforts. We also believe strongly in saving a green world for the future generations. We live in a very rural and wooded area and know that no matter what we do, nature will eventually take over, if we don’t do it right.”
When Annette Watson heard that Appalachian Voices was in search of volunteers, she decided that her organization would be perfect for the position. Annette works with developmentally disabled adults at New River RHA, who now help distribute the paper through shipments and drop-offs. They keep the racks fully stocked at six locations around Boone. Annette says, “It’s a great way to get the adults out in the community and they just love meeting new people and making sure places have the paper.”
These are just a few of the “voices” from the many dedicated volunteers who distribute the paper. Having a diversity of people and organizations volunteering to distribute Appalachian Voice shows the commitment to improving the environment that so many share. They are a passionate people who want the voice of their region heard. The volunteer distribution process allows individuals and groups to work together to promote social and environmental change. We can always use more help in getting the Voice to more locations in the Appalachian region. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer distributor, please contact our office at 828-262-1500.