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Meet Oconee Patch Blogger Leslie Hale

I've always been motivated to find ways to better serve under-served populations: the poor, young children, the elderly, and of course, kids with disabilities.

Do you read the blogs on your local Patch? Blogging is fun, easy, free and open to everyone. In May, we are going to take some time to get to know our local bloggers. This week we are featuring Leslie Hale, whose blogs may be found on the Oconee Patch.  

Leslie Hale was a recent intern at in Watkinsville. Though her internship with ESP has ended, she still volunteers for the non-profit and staff members are planning to continue blogging in Local Voices to spread the latest ESP news.  Here is some information she shared with us in an email interview.

What is your educational background?
I have a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I just completed the first year of a two-year Master of Public Administration program at the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs.

Tell us a little about yourself, your interests, your accomplishments, what’s important to you…
I spent four years as a newspaper reporter covering local government and education, and I still have an abiding interest in telling peoples' stories. The reason I came back to school is that I recognize the power of peoples' stories to affect change, and I want to be directly involved in the formation of public policy. I've always been motivated to find ways to better serve under-served populations: the poor, young children, the elderly, and of course, kids with disabilities.

My work as a PR intern with ESP has been a perfect bridge between where I've been and where I'm trying to go – from the news industry into a direct advocacy role. And through working with ESP, I've found a real passion for helping meet the needs of kids and young adults with disabilities.

Beyond that, my interests are my family – my husband, Aaron, and our extended families in North Carolina – our two cats, Ocho and G.W., spending time outside camping, hiking, biking and running, and reading when I can find the spare time.

What are your ties to the Oconee Patch? How did you become involved with blogging here?
I was asked to by Stephanie Gross, the editor. She attended and covered an awareness event held by ESP at the Georgia Theatre in October 2011. I had been actively sending out press releases and news on behalf of ESP, and I was thrilled to have another outlet to spread the word about ESP, especially on a personal basis.

Why do you like to blog and what subjects are your favorites to write about?
It was a real joy for me to find an extended outlet to write. I've been doing it since I was old enough to read, and I love that even after leaving the journalism industry, I've had the ability to continue writing about interesting, compelling topics.

I see things happening every day in ESP that deserve to be shared with the wider world. My absolute favorite thing to write about is people at the heart of ESP's mission: the kids and young adults with disabilities. They approach life with incredible joy, spirit and courage. I love taking something that causes a great depth of emotion and finding a way to put words to it. The kids at ESP inspire that depth of emotion in me (and countless other people) every day, so it's a lot of fun to turn that feeling into words.

Do you have a favorite quotation?
Because I write a lot, I also read a lot – so I have many. But, the one I chose to be part of my signature at the bottom of my emails is one of my favorites right now: "It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Any additional information you would like to share with our readers….
I would be remiss if I didn't make a pitch for getting involved in ESP. It's a really great organization with a lot of wonderful opportunities to help out. It's been around for 25 years, and is making efforts to expand and meet the needs of more young people. We launched our first-ever capital campaign in February, with a goal of raising $5.8 million in the next three years. It doesn't necessarily take money to get involved in ESP, though, and it doesn't even take experience with populations that have disabilities. It just takes a big heart. People can find out more by visiting extraspecialpeople.com or calling (706) 769-9333.

Did you know that anyone can blog on Patch? You might choose to blog for personal, educational or informational reasons, or perhaps your business would like to create a blog about its services. You can blog on your schedule with no deadlines. You can post multiple entries per day or just a few times a month. Patch blogs were created to be a forum of free expression for everyone. Ready to get started? Visit the "Blog on Patch" page now.

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