I have been pleasantly surprised at the amount of positive community involvement that there is at Wood TV8. One thing I was previously aware of, but clearly not to the full extent, was Maranda Park Parties. These are something that I myself had attended as a child. They are free community parties for kids to attend. There is free food, giveaways, entertainment, rides, and just a generally fun summer activity for children to participate in. However that’s all I knew about the parties as a kid. Being so actively involved behind the scenes has shed a whole new light on just how important these parties are. They are strategically placed in communities, such as Wyoming, Kalamazoo, and Muskegon, where there is a huge need for free, safe fun. A lot of these kids, this is their only opportunity to participate in a fun outing like this, due to financial reasons, transportation problems, or both. Whether I’m working at the meet the princess tent or helping to strap kids in for the zipline, seeing all of the kids’ faces completely lit up is an extremely rewarding feeling.
Though Wood TV is a news station, it’s amazing how every June-August, the whole team, not just the lifestyle department, is helping out with the park party. And it is definitely needed; it’s a lot of work. Most stations, I’ve learned, may have one event per year that is similar to this to fulfill the network’s community service requirement, and even that is a large undertaking. However there are five park parties each year. The people at this station, Maranda specifically, are the model of how a media organization should work. They have absolutely no requirement to do any of this; they fulfill their community service requirement with their Day of Caring in June where every single employee volunteers around the West Michigan area. They simply do this to benefit the community around them. This is so refreshing to see amongst all of the criticism of the news industry as greedy and corrupt. These are just good people trying to not only report on the things happening around them, but they are trying to leave a positive mark.
Another thing I have learned about Wood TV is that they invest a lot in community partners doing good for the community as well. Eva Aguirre-Cooper is the head of Community outreach, and I have reached out to her and shadowed her to learn a little bit more about her job. What I have discovered completely complements the notion I had gotten from the park parties; this company cares. Every year, they host their Connecting With Community awards, and this year I was lucky enough to assist Eva in setting up and coordinating the event. At this ceremony, there are several companies around the West Michigan area that are nominated and recognized for the positive impact they consistently has on the community. One of these companies then wins the award and is honored for their great work. Being in this environment was amazing. Later I learned that in many media organizations, Eva’s job pretty much doesn’t exist, because it is usually highly unprofitable. However, because of Eva’s passion for the work and persistence, she has found a way to not only keep the position around, but has made it both profitable for the company and funnels money to the right community service organizations, which in turn benefits the community. Her story has just really amazed me and motivates me to remember that success and morality can both coexist in a company, something that I was slightly unsure I would encounter.
Overall, it has been amazing to continue to realize the true heart of this company over the course of my internship, and it inspires me to, in my post-grad job search, never settle for a company that does not have similar values, because this has shown me that it is extremely possible to help the community grow as you do.