Having sold the paper for a little more than two years now and writing for it, I wanted to see how the paper is put together. I met Amelia (editor of The Contributor) at the vendor office, then we walked over to the main offices for The Contributor through the scaffolding of the new high rise going up across the alley. We went upstairs to where all the magic happens.
Cover stories are penciled in for the year with ideas, but like with the Predators' recent wins, changes are made. Amelia is able to make changes at a moment’s notice with her background in broadcasting; it makes this second nature. She doesn't even bat an eye. Megan, creative media coordinator, and Lauren, director of development, round out the staff.
Mondays start with the new paper release, and then afterwards vendors put in their submissions of poems, essays, articles and art work. Every submission is then typed out and art work photographed. Each submission is read over, and decisions are made by the space that is available, which is generally two pages but can spill over to three when needed. Amelia also opens her office to vendors on Tuesdays for those wanting help with writing future submissions. Wednesdays and Thursdays, the paper is laid out on a late model Mac computer. Final decisions are made and proofreading is done several times. Each page is reviewed multiple times to ensure no typos. Fridays at 2 p.m. it's sent to the printers in Franklin, and the finished product is then delivered Monday morning and stacked in the vendor office by some weary-eyed volunteers. As the new week starts, they do it all over again.
Each issue costs around $680 to pay writers and a proof reader, and then additional money for printing. Money doesn't go into furnishings and much-needed equipment such as computers and filing cabinets, but they make it all work.
“We really are in need of new computers to work on,” Amelia says, adding that it's a very tight budget they work with so donations of equipment are needed, as well as private donations made directly to The Contributor.
Fundraising is necessary to keep the paper running, as well as provide necessary items for the vendors such as water and sunscreen in the summer. Donation envelopes stuffed into your paper, the special breakfast, the Big Payback and other fundraising opportunities are an ongoing endeavor. Just when one ends another is soon to begin. The Contributor survives on donations from the public sent in to the office. I have even heard people can donate a portion of their estate to The Contributor.
Brady Banks, executive director of The Contributor, is working on bringing the paper into a more digital presence. Social media presence has been more evident in the past year but he says, “I'm looking into doing more.”
Brady works closely with the board of directors and the office staff. He's also in charge of hiring new, fresh and talented people. Turn around is frequent at a nonprofit so it can be very taxing work finding this talent. Brady states that The Contributor is in its best shape ever, thanks to all the staff, volunteers and the dedicated vendors who sell it. These talented people put up with long hours and little pay because they believe in what they are doing for the homeless, and it shows when a vendor comes in with keys to a home.
Vicky B. is a Contributor vendor who is currently living in transitional housing.