A tribute to the influence of local journalism and community engagement

ATASCADERO — Two valued members of our Atascadero News team, Camille DeVaul, and Christianna Marks, were recently accorded the esteemed Elk’s Citizen of the Year award. This accolade acknowledges their extraordinary contributions to both our community and our organization, serving as a testament to their exceptional work and dedication.

Given annually by the outgoing Exalted Ruler of the Atascadero Elk’s Lodge, this honor is bestowed upon unsung heroes who go above and beyond in their community service. This year, the spotlight shone brightly on Camille DeVaul, our Assistant Content Editor, and Christianna Marks, our Community Reporter. Their steadfast dedication to local journalism and relentless pursuit of community stories have cast a meaningful media spotlight on the profound work done by the Elk’s Lodge and numerous other organizations within our community.

“Each year, the outgoing Exalted Ruler picks someone from our community that they feel goes above and beyond, the unsung heroes of the community to be recognized as the Elk’s Citizen of the Year,” said Past Exalted Ruler Susan Marple. “This year we had two Camille DeVaul and Christianna Marks. The dynamic duo from the Atascadero News were helpful and supportive and easy to work with and they shined a media spotlight on many of the good works that the Elk’s do in our community.”


Marks, who joined Atascadero News and 13 Stars Media in 2021, cut her teeth in music journalism in her early career, contributing to publications across the US and running her own music blog. DeVaul, on the other hand, joined Atascadero News and 13 Stars Media in 2020, driven by her passion for writing and agriculture. Continuing the legacy of her family who published their own Italian newspaper, Il Corriere del Rhode Island, in the 1920s, DeVaul’s career in journalism seems not just a job but a fulfillment of destiny.

Both Marks and DeVaul have expressed their love for the community and the vital role they play in telling its stories. DeVaul’s dedication extends to her appreciation for small-town life and its big news, relishing the opportunity to shed light on the community’s history and its many intriguing characters. 

“I love our community. I grew up in Templeton and always had an appreciation for small town life. But just because we are small does not mean we don’t have big news. There are stories and interesting people everywhere you look and I get to shed light on all of those people and events,” DeVaul shared. “History is another passion of mine. I have read countless archived newspapers when researching for other stories and it is pretty crazy to think that one day someone will be looking back to my articles to do the same thing.”

Marks, too, thrives on the opportunity to spotlight the extraordinary endeavors within our community, aiding in the crucial task of helping our community feel seen and heard.

“I love being able to tell people’s stories and highlight the amazing things that people are doing in the community. It’s so important to feel seen, and I love that I get to have a hand in that for the people around me,” Marks said. 

But their recognition extends beyond just individual accomplishments. It highlights the essence of our mission at 13 Stars Media: Making communities better through print. With a dedicated team of over 20 individuals spanning the Central Coast, from advertising to graphic design and delivery, we pride ourselves on being a small hometown business with a big impact.

Our weekly publications, The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press, may seem just another part of the community’s routine, but behind every edition lies a colossal effort. Each page carries stories intricately woven by our journalists, delivered to your mailbox by our diligent team, and made possible by our local advertisers.

While journalism is often a thankless job, we, as a team, take immense pride in knowing that we play a pivotal role in chronicling history. These stories we tell today will be looked back upon by generations to come as snapshots of a time lived and experienced.

As we celebrate DeVaul and Marks’ achievement, we also urge our community to acknowledge the importance of supporting local journalism. Each subscription to our publication not only sustains the tradition of local storytelling but also directly supports our team of individuals like DeVaul and Marks who are devoted to bringing your stories to life.

By supporting local journalism, you contribute to a larger ecosystem — one that uplifts community organizations, sustains a local business, and fosters an informed and connected community. It’s an investment not just in today’s news, but also in the fabric of our shared history and our collective future. Let us celebrate the power of our community and continue to enrich it, one story at a time.

Feature Image: Past Elk’s Exalted Ruler Susan Marple (right) proudly presents the Elk’s Citizen of the Year Awards to Camille DeVaul (middle), Assistant Content Editor, and Christianna Marks (left), Community Writer, for their outstanding contributions. Photo courtesy of the Elks.