First Person: Saying goodbye, on to the next chapter ... | June 24, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - June 24, 2011

First Person: Saying goodbye, on to the next chapter ...

by Amy Renalds

Fourteen years ago this summer I was in that uncomfortable but exhilarating phase of looking for a new career.

In the fall of 1997, I participated in the Palo Alto Weekly's annual Moonlight Run, with my then 9-year-old daughter, Brittany. Weekly acquaintances from years earlier mentioned, on that beautiful fall evening, that there was an opening for a promotions assistant.

I remember feeling deep in my gut that I wanted this next chapter of my life to be meaningful work within the community — something through which I could develop deeper relationships and become more involved in the city where I grew up.

I began working at the Weekly in November 1997 and quickly fell in love with the culture, my co-workers and most importantly the mission of the paper: to deliver journalism with integrity and honesty.

I quickly came to know the community and especially the local nonprofit world in a deeper way. That world is truly comprised of some of the most amazing people, supporting various missions, all with the intent to make our community stronger and support those in need.

I joined boards, committees, volunteered and represented the Palo Alto Weekly in so many arenas, and I was very proud in this role. One woman just emailed me today saying, "We sincerely appreciate the care and concern you have given to small organizations such as ours over the years. Your love of the community is clearly evident in the work that you do."

As promotions director, I put on just about every kind of event possible, from internal functions, company retreats and summer picnics to receptions honoring the Short Story and Photo Contest winners to the ultimate event, the annual Moonlight Run & Walk.

Even the year we had a huge glitch with the 2,000-plus pre-registered run participants, this event was where my heart and soul went. As I drove home around midnight down Embarcadero Road at the end of every Moonlight run, I was filled with a sense of accomplishment for organizing an event in which families, teams, kids and the community as a whole participated.

I particularly remember the fun of planning the Weekly's 20th Anniversary celebration in 1999, at the newly opened Cantor Museum at Stanford. That event typified how the Weekly wanted to celebrate its 20 years by sharing it with the community. We had TheatreWorks, Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, the Gunn High School Jazz band and more at the event entertaining our guests. We were celebrating being a part of the community, and we were thrilled to share this with our friends and supporters. More than 750 people joined in honoring the Weekly's 20 years of journalism with the hopes of many more years to come.

As assistant to Publisher Bill Johnson, I was able to develop in another role at the Weekly while learning a lot about the workings of the paper. Bill is a well-respected family man and businessman and a dedicated journalist. It was always an honor to introduce myself as Bill's assistant. I got to be a part of some innovative projects and to see the change in the newspaper industry as the Weekly held on tight and developed into a strong multimedia company.

I remember one time getting introduced at a luncheon as the "Assistant Publisher" and thought it had a nice ring to it!

The most rewarding part of my last 13 years has been my role as administrator of the Weekly's annual Holiday Fund drive. Started 18 years ago, Bill had the vision that the Weekly could be the vehicle to manage donations from the community, while having 100 percent of the proceeds go back to the nonprofits that serve children and families.

I was proud to be part of a team of Weekly employees that did the due diligence in the distribution of the funds. The site visits to the nonprofits, meeting the executive directors, interacting with kids and shelters, schools and garden programs all will forever be cemented in my heart.

As one of eight children, raised in Palo Alto, I have always had a strong sense of community. Our parents taught us from the beginning about "giving back," helping those less fortunate, showing kindness to others and most importantly making a difference with my life.

Setting goals, aiming high, being determined and learning continuously all were integrated into my time at the Weekly. I can hardly believe that it has come to a close, but with that 9-year-old daughter now 23, I've decided it's time for new adventures as an executive assistant in a local venture-capital firm.

This job will not cut my ties to the Weekly or the community because both are embedded in who I am and what I care about. So I'll still be helping at the Moonlight Run this September, feeling proud and connected.

Thank you, Palo Alto, for letting me reflect upon a time of my life that will always be special to me. I am exhilarated for the next round.

So long, for now.

Amy Renalds was the Weekly's assistant to the publisher and promotions director for more than 13 years. She can be emailed at


Posted by Debbie Ford-Scriba, a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2011 at 7:45 am

In the words of another Palo Alto-based company, "Like"!

Posted by Proud Daughter, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 24, 2011 at 8:53 am

It is truly amazing how many wonderful things you accomplished during your 13 years with the PAW. Cheers to change and a bright new future for you!

Posted by Evelyn Orr, a resident of Addison School
on Jun 24, 2011 at 9:38 am

Dear Amy, I remember the time when you were looking for a new career and stepping out of that comfort zone. You had to find that trust in yourself and the unknown and You Did! I can't believe how fast the time went. Although we now live out of state, my husband Tim and I are still connected via Palo Alto online and now FaceBook. Seeing your name in all that you have been involved in made it extra special. You and your daughter have been a big part of our lives and most importantly our children's lives. Palo Alto is a town that knows what it means to be a community. We are fortunate to have found Forest Grove, Oregon when we moved, another town that knows what community is all about. Our youngest now 15 is a happy, caring, kind young man. "It takes a village to raise a child" and you have always had that "let's do it together and leave no one out or behind" attitude. You are and have been a wonderful Role Model to many and you will never know how many lives you have changed for the better, just know in your heart that you have.
We wish you the very best in your new career and I have no doubt that you will continue to touch many lives in a most positive way.

Blessings and much love,

Evelyn Orr and the Orr Family

Posted by Linda, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 24, 2011 at 9:40 am

Well said, Amy. The Weekly culture is wonderful. Your contribution will be missed.

Posted by Susan Frank, a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 24, 2011 at 10:53 am

Amy, no doubt you will be missed at the Weekly. I have fond memories of working with you when I was at the chamber of commerce, and working (and playing) alongside you during those years. Enjoy your next adventure, and stay in touch. Palo Alto appreciates you! ~Susan