While reporters, editors, ad salespeople, and graphic designers are all essential to putting the 100 Mile Free Press together, there’s a second, and no less essential, group of people who make sure the paper makes it to the doorstep of community members throughout the South Cariboo: the news carriers.
Six of the South Cariboo’s news carriers and three helpers come from the Cedar Crest Society for Community Living.
Cedar Crest is an organization that works to change attitudes and assist with opportunities for people and youth in the community living with developmental disabilities.
Ryan Barker has been carrying papers for the past three years.
“I like to see the people and see people’s faces,” he says.
He says people say hi everywhere he goes on his route.
“You get to know the people.”
Barkers says he’s not a fan of the weather during the winter, when Cedar Crest staff will help out with rides, however he enjoys the Christmas bonuses and thank you cards given to him from his customers.
While occasionally he thinks about moving on from his job with the Free Press, he says it’s hard to quit a job he’s had for such a long time.
“I would miss the people. It’s hard to move on.”
Jared Douglas has been delivering the Cariboo Connector for at least two years.
He says it’s the customers that are the best part of the route.
While his route is uphill, he delivers with a Cedar Crest member who helps make the job “fun,” he says.
He walks even in the winter, because he likes being outside, he says.
While sometimes he finds it hard to go up to the doors of customers because he’s nervous, when he knows the people along the route it’s no problem.
As for whether he’ll stick with the job this winter?
“I’ll keep it,” he says.
Dylan Sund has been delivering the paper for at least nine years.
Between counting, bagging and delivering the Free Press in the morning and the Connector in the afternoon, it takes him about four hours every Thursday.
“I like delivering papers to happy customers,” he says, adding that his on-route motto is “another happy customer.”
A Cedar Crest staff member says that Sund is “famous on the route.”
“I just like talking to all the people, actually,” he says.
Brett Tassell has been delivering papers for “a long time.”
He says his favourite part is enjoying the weather, but it’s also the customers that keep him coming back.
“You get to go out and meet a few people and you get to meet more people,” he says, adding sometimes they’ll come out to chat.
At Christmas, he says he collects over $200 in bonuses, which a Cedar Crest staff member says is not uncommon.
Tassell learned how to do a paper route from his sister.
“She used to do it on my route when I was living down on Birch Place. My sister used to do it every time.
“Cedar Crest popped it open and said, oh, Brett, would you like to do a paper route? I said sure.”
While Brett says he tends to overpack his basket which makes the papers heavier to tow, most days he’s happy to do the work.
“It’s just fun and I get a lot of support from staff and they love when I do it because I always have a happy smile on my face.”