As journalists we tend to write about politicians, rich people, entertainers, athletes, religious leaders, and community activists, as the leaders in our community. But the real leaders are just the average everyday people like our parents, relatives, people we know, church congregation members or someone we work with. We don’t see these people as leaders, nor do they try to be leaders in most cases, but many times they impact our lives far more than all the other so called leaders.

In my case it was someone I worked with. Different people have different influences and some people are influencing you and you don’t even know it. And I’ve worked with a lot of people.



When I first came to the Courier fresh out of college in 1973 the first thing one of the employees asked me was “Did I know Jesus?” And me being young I replied, to myself, probably better than you. Well this woman had very little impact on me as a person or Christian, but another woman who didn’t ask me anything about Jesus, politics or community, but simply welcomed me to the Courier, made me feel like I was special and that it was such a joy to have me there.

After a few years had passed, I’m a little slow sometimes, I realized that it wasn’t just me; she welcomed everybody with opened arms. From new employees to the mailman, to the UPS guy, she treated everyone like they were her long lost friend, like they were special, that she was so glad to meet and talk to them.

Everyone was Sweetie, Honey, Sugah, Baby. How are you honey, how do you feel, is everything OK, and it went on. People looked forward to seeing her.

We as Christians do a lot of talking about how we should live. What being a Christian is? But the most important aspect of Christianity is doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. Or in this lady’s case, doing unto others more than they are doing unto or for you.

Always greeting people with “how are you doing Sweetie” instead of “I’m Blessed,” or “God is Good To Me.” Or like so many of us do, with a negative answer even though we are in good health, we are working, and everyone in our family is well, instead of always making that person we are talking to feel special. She always had something good to say about people. She was always looking out for others when she came to work by stopping off at the grocery store and buying bananas, donuts and other goodies and passing them out at work. Almost everyday.

She was such a blessing that most of us tended to take her for granted. When everyone else was complaining about something; our jobs, how much we were not getting paid, politics, religion, there was always one constant. A shining light at the front desk who was a beacon of joy, which always let you know that she loved you unconditionally.

She more than anyone else I’ve worked with, and I’ve worked with some beautiful, magnificent people, illustrated the true meaning of family and love.

I for one, but I think I’m speaking for everyone who worked at the Courier from 1972 through 2013, whether it was just for a few weeks or many years, they all loved, and respected this woman.

This little bundle of love announced her retirement a few weeks ago. Now she will be able to do some of things she always wanted to do, such as visiting family and friends, but most of all, “just staying in my bed, and watching the snow and the rain through my window.”

Who was this great unheralded person? Joan Alli recently retired from the Courier after 41 and a half years. No she will not be listed in the history books. She wasn’t even an executive or boss at the Courier. Yet there is no one who has worked for the Courier who doesn’t know Miss Joan.

I think I’m speaking for all who have met her when I say farewell Miss Joan, Joanie, Miss Alli, and enjoy the remainder of your life, because you have made all of us much richer in the time we have known you.

Speaking of Courier employees. I’m really mystified that Sonya Toler is not telling what position she’s going to receive from the new mayor after being the front person for Bill Peduto’s campaign. I was upset at first when he announced his cabinet because I felt she should have been given one of the top spots. But if not the cabinet where, a department head?

Everyone is trying to get it out of her, but she’s hanging on to it. What’s up with that? Sonya you are giving journalists a bad name. You know we can’t keep secrets. Maybe if we hung her up by her thumbs we could get it out of her. Come on, I know you are bursting at the seams to tell. We won’t tell anyone? Well, maybe just a few thousand of our readers, but no one else. All I have to say is…a journalist keeping secrets? What is the world coming to?

(Ulish Carter is the managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)


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