I’ve been in Toronto, participating in Harlequin’s annual More Than Words celebration. This accounts for my absence from the blog for a few days–did you miss me?
More Than Words, for those of you who haven’t heard about this wonderful program, honors five women each year for the contributions they’ve made through their own singular charities. Each winner receives $10,000 from Harlequin for their projects, and writers are assigned to write stories inspired by one of the winners. Mine was Jeanne Greenberg, who, along with her wonderful husband, Syd, started SARI–a theraputic riding program for children facing challenges of all sorts–Down syndrome, autism, and other serious handicaps. Syd and Jeanne started the program in memory of their daughter, Sari, who was a Down syndrome child and received so much enrichment and empowerment by riding and just being around horses that she truly blossomed. When Sari passed away at 15, their grief was overwhelming, as you can imagine, but out of Sari’s short life came an endless stream of good. They’ve helped hundreds of children since starting their foundation. They work tirelessly–and both are in their 80s, married 65 years, and still so deeply in love that it is magical to watch them interact. My story, “Queen of the Rodeo”, was inspired by their amazing contributions.
Do you know someone–perhaps yourself?–who works to make life better for children, animals, homeless women and children? If so, I encourage you to go to Harlequin’s website and watch for this year’s More Than Words program. 2007’s winners included a young married couple who gave Build-A-Bears to the guests at their wedding–and the bears went to disadvantaged children. This has become Bears Without Borders, a world-wide organization, in just a few years. Another woman has established a housing/work program for homeless women and their children. Yet another gives prom dresses and tuxedos to disadvantaged teenagers, so they can go to prom and graduation and feel as though they fit in. It is incredibly empowering. Lastly, there was Dr. Ricki, a physician who has built an organization for research into autism and advocacy for children afflicted with this disease. More than a few tears were shed, I can tell you, as these women told their stories. What struck me most was that each of these far-reaching programs began with a single act of kindness.
So if you know someone who makes a difference, in her community or in the whole world, please consider nominating her for the 2008 More Than Words program. All net profits from the books go to fund the continuation of the program. The hope is that, not only will readers volunteer or contribute, if they’re in a position to do so, but also that they’ll follow through on an idea of their own. As I said, you can find the information on Harlequin’s website.
On a sadder note, my daughter and future son-in-law had to put their beloved dog down over the Easter weekend. Bailey will be sorely missed.