By John Ensslin | October 5th, 2009
On Tuesday, Oct. 13 Colorado SPJ will host a talk with Matt Latimer, former speechwriter for George W. Bush and author of a new book, “Speech-less.”
The free event at the Denver Press Club kicks off the third season of the Helen Verba Lecture series.
Since its inception, the series has brought a wide range of speakers to Denver, ranging from P.J. O’Rourke and Ralph Steadman to Jennifer 8. Lee and Renee Montagne.
All of this thanks to an unexpected benefactor. Helen Verba wasn’t the most famous journalist of her era, but her impact has been far greater that many.
Helen worked for many years in the features department of the Denver Post. She served a variety of roles included “club editor.” Prior to that, she had been involved in the early days of Denver radio.
One constant throughout Helen’s life was her devotion to SPJ. For years, she faithfully attended nearly every board meeting. And when she passed away, Helen surprised the chapter by leaving an endowment of $50,000.
Through some wise investments, SPJ was able to grow that sum to nearly $150,000. And while the stock market crash last year put a dent in our portfolio, the fund still serves the purpose Helen wanted, educating young journalists.
For more than a decade, we’ve awarded the Helen Verba scholarship to two deserving college journalists in Colorado. And three years ago, we expanded the scope of the fund to bring in newsmakers and journalists.
Many of the speakers have made campus visits and students are able to attend all our public events for free.
Perhaps there’s a Helen Verba in your chapter as well. If so, it doesn’t hurt to let members know that they can leave a lasting legacy by making a bequest to SPJ.