This year I had the distinct pleasure of being chosen as a “giver” for World Book Night 2013. My friend Mandee Graham and I were chosen to give a box of books to the group of our choice. The targeted population for this years’ gifts were non or light readers. We chose Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. It was an easy choice because it is small enough not to intimidate reluctant readers and because it delivers such a powerful message.
We decided to donate the books to a group of women in our county who we thought would both be likely to read them and who could benefit from the positive message of the story. The Behavioral Health Resources in our town offers a program that we felt gave us ideal candidates. The Harvest Program is designed for mothers and expectant mothers who are in recovery from addiction. They are actively seeking positive ways to cope with the stressors of life and childrearing in the face of often insurmountable adversity. They are a group with whom I feel a kinship in my own way.
Growing up, reading was my personal form of escapism. Fantasy realms were my abode while outside my bedroom raged the storms of adolescence then marriage and parenthood that would otherwise have carried me away. I have suffered from mental health issues during stressful times, as nearly everyone does, and have always turned to reading as a method of coping. Sometimes I was more successful than other times, but it was always there. The loneliest person is the one who is by himself and cannot read. When I’d read everything available to me, I turned to writing my own stories as a form of therapy. Books have given me hope, joy and a new outlook on life that I fervently hoped to share with these women.
Having programs available for women that support them during the difficulties of recovery and especially through the challenges of recovery while trying to parent is a phenomenal boon for our community. The women in The Harvest Program find solace in the storms of their lives and support where otherwise none would exist. Mandee and I were both humbled and honored to be able to contribute this small gift to those women who appreciated it so very much and will, in many cases, continue to seek hope, adventures and excitement between the pages of books.