Success Stories inspire readers to make a difference—May 31, 2013
My reading time , as with most of us here at HPL, consumes chunks of everyday. If I live to be 100, my book list will never end. The titles of many books that cross our circulation desk and in book reviews are added daily to a growing list plus scattered little snippets of paper with “want to read” items.
One evening, as I relaxed with one of my choices, a televised conversation caught my attention. The intelligent, yet almost monotone voice belonged to Dr.Ben Carson, director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. What intrigued me was a description of his impoverished childhood and “bad boy” reputation. His mother, who had only a third grade education and usually worked from early morning to late evening, was determined to shape successful futures for her sons. She insisted that they read and then write about it while other children played. She constantly reminded them that they could do anything and be anything. Dr. Carson obviously internalized the lessons of his childhood because in addition to a successful medical career, he is a philanthropist and journalist. Yet, humility is one of his most endearing qualities. Anyone who views the DVD “Gifted Hands” will understand the trust people place in him. Although his schedule is full, he has found time to write several books. One of his most recent publications is “America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great”, which reflects his integrity.
A patron enthusiastically recommended materials about Temple Grandin whose autism could have sabotaged any hope for success. In spite of ridicule and stark predictions for the future, she and her mother persevered. She became known for her work with animals and credits autism for her ability to communicate with them. She shares her thoughts on values in “Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships” and has other titles to her credit.
Dave Pelzer is another amazing success story. His childhood was one of constant suffering at the hands of the woman who should have loved, guided and encouraged him. The physical and mental abuse he endured could have easily justified a life of criminal behaviors, addictions and sadness, but Pelzer started writing about his early experiences, maybe as a sort of catharsis. He pours horrible memories into the pages of “A Child Called It; One Child’s Courage To Survive” and “The Lost Boy; A Foster Boy’s Search For The Love Of a Family”. His style evolved in later publications like “Help Yourself; Celebrating The Daily Rewards Of Resiliance and Gratitude” and “Help Yourself For Teens; Real Life Advice For Real Life Challenges”. These books give straightforward advice for eliminating negative factors in people’s lives.
Laura Schroff shares her experiences with an 11-year-old panhandler in “An Invisible Thread”. She and co-author, Alex Tresniowski, write about an unlikely friendship between a small hungry child and Schroff, a busy executive. The first day she saw him, he stood on a corner begging for food. Initially, she rushed past him. Maybe it was compassion, but something made her go back. That day, she treated him to large lunch, played video games and together, they began what became a symbiotic friendship which has lasted nearly 30 years.
Books like the ones listed inspire me to step out of my comfort zone. Everyone, whether they realize it or not, is capable of making a difference. It’s just a matter of caring enough to make a change for someone or something. Whatever is offered seems to boomerang.