When we volunteered to help out for a week at a shelter, it was explained to us that as families were selected and brought to the shelter, there would be “Sponsors” ready and waiting to help the family relocate. As the days went by it seemed to us that this may have been the plan, but it had not materialized. During that week we developed a relationship with the Thornton family and when we were approached to “Sponsor” them, we felt that we were in the best position and willing to accept the challenge. We had no idea where to begin or how to go about helping them in the most effective way. There were many times we stumbled along with no one to turn to for advice, feeling very inadequate and not knowing if what we were doing was the right or best thing to do.
The book began as a diary. When I let a friend read it, she came back with many good questions along the lines of “how did we know what to do?” The answer was that we didn’t know, but in the process we had learned many valuable lessons. We had to confront head-on many things that we had chosen to ignore, not wanting to know about or deal with.
As we discussed the idea of publishing a book, we knew that there would be those who would have strong reactions on various issues that the book and the Katrina story presented overall. Our hope is that in telling this story, including the good, the bad, and the ugly, that it would encourage others to think about the issues in a different light and hopefully learn from our experiences, mistakes and all.
The intent of this book was not to pat ourselves on the back for what we did or attempted to do – we know we could have done far more, and been far more effective in many situations. If it were the case that we were/are “doing charitable deeds before men” then we would have omitted all the bungled missteps and embarrassing moments. It was very difficult to hand over the first copy of the book, to put our life out there for others to read about. Our initial reaction was “what have we done?” Even our closest friends have said, “I had no idea. . . ” The intent of this book is solely to pass along an experience in dealing with a generation poverty situation, and hopefully spur another line of thought for people who feel that victims should “do more for themselves.”
The Thornton family has humbled us in so many ways. Our friends, family, and church have been extremely supportive of our efforts; they are the true heroes in this story. Along with us, they have fallen in love with these little kids, doting on them and making sure that they have what they need. If anyone deserves a pat on the back, it is all the “Angels” who gave us support in many different ways. Whether they realize it or not, they are helping us break the cycle of poverty in our society.
As the search began for a publisher, it quickly became apparent that this was an exercise in futility. If you are fortunate enough to get the attention of a publisher, it may take years to get a book in print. When we were approached with the idea that the book could be used as a tool to help us solve the long-term housing dilemma for this family, I chose the self-publishing route. I knew that I would not have the benefit of a publisher to “polish” the story. The book is not intended to be a great work of literature; it is a story that I tried to present it in a straightforward, easy to read way. Successful marketing and promotion of a book requires the author be in the spotlight, even when they prefer otherwise.
If this book encourages the readers to look within themselves, and to begin to think about what they can do to educate themselves on how to help those around them more effectively, then I feel my goal has been met. If it evokes a strong emotion or reaction, whether positive or seems to be negative, that is good, because it has made the reader think.
StephanieRead all blog entries at http://angelsandquiltpieces.blogspot.com