|About the presenter: Pamela Mertz works as a high school Career Specialist. She is an active member of the stuttering self-help community, including NSA and Friends. She is also active in Toastmasters, serving as her club's immediate Past-President. Pam is a blogger and writer, publishing a monthly newsletter called "Let's Talk About It," for the College of St Rose (Albany, NY) Fluency Council, and the electronic version of "Reaching Out" for Friends. She is a member of the Board of Directors for an agency that serves adults with disabilities.|
Newsletters are the perfect extension of a self help group, especially for the stuttering community. I joined the Council of Fluency at The College of St Rose in Albany, NY in 2006. I soon realized we needed an avenue to compile all the wisdom we churned out each week. And sometimes we really only touched on a topic and a newsletter offers a way for the topic to be continued and allow members to write and share their stories.
The monthly newsletter, "Let's Talk About It" debuted in October 2007. I was so excited about getting that first issue published and distributed that I wrote all the articles myself! That first newsletter was 2 pages long. Twenty one issues later, our newsletter has grown to 5-6 pages, and is shared by people who stutter, parents, SLPs and students.
I use Publisher, part of MS Office. Publisher is user friendly, comes with pre-formatted newsletter styles, or you can experiment and create your own. Publisher functions with similar tools as MS Word, so tasks are compatible. You can use text boxes to create headlines, and use functions such as borders and shading to create attention getting copy. Inserting graphics is also idiot proof in Publisher. You can use anything from standard clipart found in Microsoft's office gallery, to your own photographs, to images that you find, copy and store from the public domain of the Internet, such as Google. Most image sites will inform you if there is any copyright protocol to follow.
As editor, I ask council members to contribute articles, essays or photographs monthly. I set a deadline, and ask that information be sent to me electronically. Items can then be embedded in an email, or as an MS Word attachment. This is the best way to build the core newsletter, as items can simply be copied and pasted into the newsletter format. After the first two or three issues were completed, I then had templates saved, which made for a much more efficient use of time and quick editing. Editing is usually only done for space, taste and grammar. Just about any article of interest to the stuttering community can be, and has been, published.
In order for the newsletter to be distributed electronically, it is best to use some sort of PDF document converter. (pdf = portable document format). Most people can open a pdf document, using the simple software acrobat reader, which is available free for both PC and MAC operating systems. If you don't have MS Publisher, you can't open a document saved in Publisher. So, I save and send the newsletters using one of the many free PDF converters found on the Internet. I happen to use CutePDF, which automatically saves the newsletter in pdf format. Readers then have the options to open, read, save and print the newsletters. CutePDF can be downloaded for free at http://www.cutepdf.com/index.htm.
"Let's Talk About It" is distributed electronically to about 100 people each month. The director of Friends liked it so much that she asked if I would consider helping Friends produce an e-version of their newsletter, "Reaching Out." Friends was looking for a wider reach. I started e-RO a year ago, and produce that newsletter bi-monthly. Both newsletters have now become a labor of love for the stuttering community.
Below are samples of both electronic newsletters in PDF format. Feel free to email me if you would like to get on the distribution list for either one, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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