A familiar story is missing from this month’s issue of Access Press. September is when the Access Press Board typically announces the winner of the Charlie Smith Award, given annually to Minnesota individual or group in recognition of outstanding service to the state’s disability community. The winner is honored at a banquet and award presentation.
The award, which is named for the Access Press founding editor, isn’t going away. But as Access Press continues to
work on its future plans and its long-term financial stability, the Charlie Smith Award nomination process and award event will be postponed until 2019.
The newspaper board and staff appreciate the patience of those who have asked about submitting nominations, and those who like to read about the many great people in our community who are nominated.
Access Press Board Chairman Steve Anderson assures readers that the award will be back. Readers should watch for details in the months ahead. “The Access Press Board of Directors greatly appreciates the financial support from you, our readers and advertisers, in recent months,” he said. “Your response to our crisis call for help has been tremendous. Your generosity has allowed Access Press to continue providing monthly news to our community. Because of your support, Access Press and the Board of Directors now has the opportunity to make the changes and improvements we need to ensure that Access Press has a sustainable future.”
Anderson said that postponing the award until next year gives the newspaper staff and board time to continue to work on financial stability and future planning, while continuing to provide the news and information readers have come to expect. The newspaper continues to welcome donations as well as new advertisers and issue sponsors.
“We know the award is very important to our readers and the disability community,” said Tim Benjamin, executive director of Access Press. “We also know that people enjoy the banquet, with attendees from a broad spectrum of Minnesota’s disability community, and that the event will be missed this November. As we make progress here on stabilizing the newspaper and planning for its future, we need to set aside the award competition and banquet for a time. It will be back.”
The Charlie Smith Award tradition will continue, and new names will be added to the honor roll of previous winners, Benjamin said. The past winners all continue to contribute to Minnesota’s disability community, each in his or her own way.