Old and New Traditions: Season of Gratitude

What is Thanksgiving Season for you? This Thanksgiving found me continuing my tradition to help at a homeless shelter. It also gave me a new tradition; a time to be with family for our first holiday dinner together in 29 years. Yes, my life is vastly different in a (very) good way than before I set roots here in my community. And keeps getting better. For me, it is a time of gratitude, in traditions old and new.

(Old Traditions)

Thanksgiving 2019 at Tender Mercies.

Yesterday, Thanksgiving, and same as the last few Thanksgivings, I joined friends to serve dinner to the residents of Tender Mercies in Cincinnati. Tender Mercies is a supportive and transitional housing environment in our Over-The-Rhine neighborhood in Cincinnati, not far from my Northern Kentucky home. We served dinner to not only the residents, but also others who came in for a warm and friendly dinner. In all, we served, oh in a rough guess, about 100 people.  

This home is but one of several shelters in our greater area. Many shelters have certain strengths to reach and help persons with specific needs. This particular place states their mission as:
Tender Mercies transforms the lives of homeless adults with mental illness by providing security, dignity, and community in a place they call home.”

These residents, each in their own way thanked us for their dinner. And once dinner was served, I stepped outside to smoke, where a resident joined me for a few minutes in a shared moment of what life is like for each of us.

Though these folks were grateful, I thanked them for:
—inviting us into their home
—for letting me give back to my community
—and for a spirit of heart-felt connection.

(New Traditions)

A selfie of my brother and I, Thanksgiving 2019.

*Spoiler Alert:

If you haven’t read my memoir yet, but plan to, then this here is an update or an added chapter to the “end of the story.”  I suppose our story never truly ends. There is always room for growth, for new understanding, for relationships to begin or be renewed.

I volunteer at Tender Mercies periodically to help in their dinner hour. Returning on Thanksgiving, I was greeted by residents who I’ve come to know; some, even if only by their smile, and some by picking up where we had last left off at in our chit-chat.

Earlier in my day on Thanksgiving, I shared it with my baby brother and only sibling. (I think of him as a baby brother although he is nearing 50 years old.) Knowing my brother is, well, is a new thing, different from the familiar faces in my volunteering. My brother recently left his home in Southern California to stay with me, here in Northern Kentucky. The last holiday my brother and I spent together was Thanksgiving 1990. I’ve had no holidays with relatives since that time in 1990.

I had been his long-lost sister. My debut book and published memoir is aptly titled, “Out of Chaos.” No longer living in chaos, life is bright and often new. Or, as with my brother and I, a chance to renew life. Thus far, we are not reliving what got us to this point. Rather, we are creating a new point. My story of chaos has ended. Our story of a renewed life is continuing to unfold. For this, I am grateful.

Resources

As we move into a new day after Thanksgiving, there are ongoing needs in our communities.

Link to Homeless Shelter Directory of Helping the Needy:
If you are in other parts of America and need a resource to point you where help is needed, this website is user friendly. It opens with a map of the United States—click on your state and from there, find out where to go and who to contact.

Link to Tender Mercies (Cincinnati, Ohio).

Tender Mercies: Here in a video, residents share their stories. (Five-minute viewing). Link to it at https://youtu.be/3BjG2L0u_5E

Link to “Your Family.” I have no experience in using this resource, nor do I know of anyone who has. You may find this website useful if you are looking for a lost loved one, as I was once the long-lost sister to my baby brother. It provides a bulletin board for postings and links to further resources.

Happy Thanksgiving Season, my friends.

I am so very grateful that you are in my circle of supporters, allies, and friends. Together. we can create a loving community for everyone; family, friends and new friends, alike.

What are your Thanksgiving Season Traditions and why? Is there a new Thanksgiving Tradition you hope to start? Please share in the comments.

If you like what I post, please join my reading community by subscribing to get blog post updates. Link here.

-Elle-

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Autumn and Book Fairs and Unbound

With the promise of crisp days on the horizon, a sense of nostalgia welcomes me into this autumn season. It seems a variety of holiday bazaars, indoor craft sales, and book fairs are plentiful for the taking this time of year.

Home Sweet Home: Getting Festive

People are getting into the festive spirit and are looking to buy craft items, baked goods, and stock up on homemade treats. They are looking to find perfect unique holiday décor, gifts, and simple pleasures for when cooped up inside on cold days.

Many of these events are a traditional fundraiser for schools, churches and synagogues, charities and other nonprofit organizations in the community. Even public libraries find that by supporting local authors with a book fair, it encourages people to keep coming back to the library.

Nostalgia suffuses social media, from online shopping to Instagram to Facebook. It provides opportunities for communities, which for logistical sakes can’t be offered year-round. It gives us an opportunity to meet the people who handcrafted these items, home-baked these goodies, or who wrote the book that you are dying to read. 

Last fall, I shared my then just released book, Out of Chaos at the annual book fair held at the public library in Burlington, Kentucky. This fall, I look forward to reconnecting with readers.

Let’s Go (to a book fair)

I have two scheduled book fairs this fall. If you are in the area, I hope you will stop in and get to know the authors in our community. If you are outside of the greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area, I hope you will visit the book fairs near you.

Attending book fairs far surpasses any Amazon shopping experience. You know, the feel of holding an actual book, the smell of ink on paper, and the sound of pages turning. And, it is about the personal connection to meet the author and to hear in their own words why they wrote the book or what it is like to share their story with you. It’s just too good to pass up.

Other great reasons to get to the next book fair are:

  • Book fairs offer a terrific assortment of books to choose from for yourself or as a gift.
  • Often, books are offered at a reduced price from the bookstore sticker price.
  • It is a meaningful way to support these authors and let them know you care.
  • It is a welcoming opportunity to make new friends with people who, likewise share a passion for reading.
  • You can get a signed copy of a book– that excitement of actually meeting an author and having them autograph their book for you.

All-in-all, book fairs can be an important role in developing the habit of reading books, in garnering community connection, and to spread culture, education and knowledge. It changes our outlook on life and widens our domain of learning.

If you can, please join me at these soon upcoming book fairs:

First Area Writers Festival
Saturday, October 5, 2019 (12:30-4:30 p.m.)
Miami Township Branch of Clermont County Public Library
5920 Buckwheat Avenue in Milford, Ohio.

Local Author Day and Book Fair
Saturday, November 9, 2019 (1:30-3:00 p.m.)
Boone County Public Library, Main Branch
1786 Burlington Pike in Burlington, Kentucky.

Visiting the Unbound Display at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
(Elle Mott)

Unbound and other Events:

Unbound: A Display of Reentry Stories
Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Main Branch
800 Vine Street in Cincinnati, Ohio.

This Unbound Project allows voices and stories to be heard, and promotes a deeper understanding of the obstacles that so many of our neighbors face as they return to our communities [after incarceration].

Sometimes the Joy of Reentry Comes Slowly: Forty-seven Birthday Candles, written by me, is found among the diverse and brave collection in this display. Unbound is currently available for viewing—visit the library for viewing.

Unbound Display (partial view) at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

If at any time you are wondering where I will be next in my writing journey, you can find out by visiting the Events tab on this website. I appreciate every opportunity to connect with readers.

Other recent news in sharing my book are:

Podcast Guest with borrowed solace literary journal.
In their Author Feature, I talk with the journal’s editors about creative nonfiction. My essay “When They Came” was published in their inaugural issue two years ago, September 2017. This thirty-minute podcast went live earlier this month. From the Events Page here on my website, you can link to listen to it.

Guest with the All Author Blog.
Here, in an interview style, I share my passion for writing. It went live last summer. Again, visit my Events Page to link to their blog post.

Resources:

Fairs and Festivals: An online advanced search tool to find events in your area.
https://www.fairsandfestivals.net/

First Area Writers Festival
Miami Township Branch of Clermont County Public Library
https://www.clermontlibrary.org/event/writers-festival-10-5/

Local Author Day and Book Fair
Boone County Public Library, Main Branch
https://boone.libnet.info/event/1791885

Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
Blog Post: Unbound: Writing and Art from Cincinnati’s Returning Citizens
(Kelly Sheehy, 9/27/19)
https://blog.cincinnatilibrary.org/Blog/unbound

My Events and Author Appearances
https://ellemottauthor.com/index.php/contact-information-media-requests/appearances/

Please share in the comments of what you enjoy most about going to book fairs in your community. 

If you like what I write, please subscribe to get notified of new blog posts.

-Elle-

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Rubber Ducks Fight Hunger

Rubber duck races are used in family-fun fundraising events by organizations worldwide. This event is a fun way to get involved in the fight against hunger; a problem that inflicts our communities and is well, not fun, but downright scary to many people who find themselves in dire need. You, too, can get involved and help raise awareness in this ongoing challenge.

At the warehouse for The Freestore Foodbank, Cincinnati, Ohio.

HOW IT WORKS

People, like you and me, donate money to the community organization who is putting on the event. In exchange, we get a rubber duck for the race. Behind the scenes, before the event, volunteers put a bar code sticker on the bottom of each rubber duck. These bar codes tell who paid for the duck. Donated monies go to the fight against hunger. Sponsors (big corporations, usually) donate prizes for winning ducks. This is an incentive to purchase a duck. Although, I question why we need an incentive to help those in need.  

PREPARING FOR EVENT DAY

Last weekend, I was behind the scenes in this effort. Me and many other volunteers showed up at their warehouse, putting those bar code stickers on the bottom of the ducks. Cincinnati’s Rubber Duck Regatta is the largest race in the northern hemisphere.

According to Game-Fundraising, a resource for fundraising, The Freestore Foodbank is one of Ohio’s largest food banks serving 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. They distribute 27 million meals annually through a network of 450 community partners including food pantries, shelters, community centers and more.

ON EVENT DAY

These rubber ducks are then dumped into a waterway. The first rubber duck to float past the finish line wins the top prize as sponsored by an area business.

Here, in the Cincinnati area, the 25th annual Rubber Duck Regatta will happen tomorrow, Sunday, September 1, on the Ohio River off the Purple People Bridge. People will watch the race from both sides of the river, some in Kentucky and some in Ohio. Those on the Kentucky side of the river will gather at Newport on the Levee; and those on the Ohio side of the river, at Sawyer Point Park. Rubber ducks will race toward the Serpentine Wall.

AFTER THE EVENT

Rubber ducks are pulled out of the waterway or river with fishing nets. Each rubber duck has a buoy to keep it afloat. Of interest, the same rubber ducks are used worldwide. When one community is done racing the ducks, the ducks are shipped or trucked to the next location for their next race. (Wow! These rubber ducks sure swim a lot, working hard in their fundraising efforts.)

In Cincinnati and the greater area, this is the largest fundraiser for The Freestore Foodbank. Each duck purchased (at $5) and raced provides 15 meals for a child or family in need. (Wow! $5 goes a long way.) It is also a big help to offset to the cost in preparing power packs, which are given to children who are on the Free Lunch Program. I’ve had my hands in these Power Packs, having volunteered to help put these together.

We can be a real part of our community.  I hope you will consider supporting the Rubber Duck Race in your area. It is a family-fun way to think of others and to help those in need, ultimately helping the whole community.

Please share about the Rubber Duck event in your community. You can drop your comments below, in reply to this post.

Resources

Cincinnati area: http://rubberduckregatta.org/

To find out more about Rubber Duck events in other communities– in your local area, visit the website for Game Fundraising or call 1-800-779-RACE.

If you like what I write, please subscribe to get notified of new blog posts.

-Elle-

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Inspiration Abounds at a Writing Workshop: Getting out of our Zone and Into the Rooms with other Writers (Conclusion).

Attending my first writer’s workshop was a leap of bravery for me, intermixed with excitement. Since then, other events for me have followed. Here, in the final part of this blog series, I’ll give you 10 tried-and-true benefits for getting out of our zone of solitude and into the rooms with others who share in the same great passion.

The first workshop I had ever attended was in the spring of 2015, when in the early days of writing my memoir. Most recently, I was at a three-day writing workshop with Midwest Writers (July 22-24, 2019). And it was the furthest away from home that I’ve ever traveled for such an event. Yet, well worth it, in that it broadened my awareness, courage, and inspiration as a creative writer.

Time and again, the emphasis at these events have been to expand our individual skill-set in creativity. Whereas, what to write is up to each individual. A question that came into my blog during the posting of this series centered on questioning the trust in and working relationship to others also at the event (I’m paraphrasing the exact comment/question). However, this concern seems nonexistent to me. If anything, the support shared among writers increases the power in my words.

For example, learning under the guidance of author and journalist, Michael McColly, I came to understand that as I develop the book I am currently working on—a biography of my maternal great-grandmother, a changemaker during the mid-20th century—I need to not only describe what she did, but also describe in detail what society was like during this era. McColly can’t write these words for me. It’s up to me. In my smaller publications, I often write about homelessness and how we can help others. McColly can’t describe what it is like to be homeless any more than I can describe the AIDS epidemic in America and in Africa in which he journals about from his personal experience. However, coming out of his classroom, I can understand how to write to reach readers when describing my own experiences and interests.

If you missed the prior posts to this blog series, you can link to them here:
Part 1 It is well worth it for us to get out of the usual solitary routine by joining forces with others. Here I share about my attendance at the Midwest Writers Workshop (or MWW, for short.)
Part 2 Break-out sessions with industry leaders and authors, Michael McColly, Matthew Clemons, and others.
Part 3 All day intensive session with Jane Friedman, author.
Part 4 Logistics of getting to a writer’s workshop and what to do when there.

10 tried-and-true benefits for getting out of our zone of solitude and into the rooms with others who share in the same great passion:

1. You will meet other writers.

(I know, duh, right?) Yet, this is the place to meet lots of people who are at varying stages in their writing careers. Wherever you are on the road to success, you will meet others who have been there before and who are ready to help you. I find that writers as a group are very supportive. If you make an effort to say hello and to sit next to people you don’t know, it is easy to meet others who can help you take the next step in your writing. It is also an opportunity to share your own experience, strength, and hope with others.

2. You will get energized.

It’s revitalizing to be with other people, all excited about the same thing. Like a pep rally from high school, when with others with the same goal, you can’t help but get the desire to write more or better than you ever have before.

3. You will feel good.

It is a motivational booster to be with others in unity. My entire experience in attending MWW, from traveling from home (and learning to drive a late model rental car) to meeting new people to seeing new sights was eye-opening for me. Any new experience which brings positive awareness amps our endorphins—it is a feel-good thing.

4. You will learn something.

Part of the reason I write is that I enjoy reading and gaining knowledge. We are hardwired to get excited about learning new things and writer events are full of ideas and insights about the craft. Sessions can be just as interesting as college classes—the only difference is that there are no tests.

5. You will find practical information for immediate use.

No matter where you are in your writing path, you will gain some nuts-and-bolts knowledge that you can use to make your writing better. Workshops can vary in their goal. My attendance at the yearly workshops with the School for Creative and Performing Arts came with a focus to bring community members closer together through the writing craft. Whereas, the focus at the MWW event was to expand our skillset for writing.

As varied as our writing is from writer to writer, so are the focus at these events. You could learn how to write for magazines and journals, how to use dialogue or create a story arc, how to develop a social media presence, how to zero in on your specific genre of writing, how to learn a new genre of writing, and the list goes on. You could gain feedback on your current manuscript. You could learn about the publication process or how to put together a query package when seeking publication. (Preparing my memoir for publication consideration involved writing a synopsis, a marketing plan, and defining my readership, and more.)  

6. You may gain new readers.

And you may discover writers to follow. On day one at the MWW conference, I browsed the swag table, complete with books for sale from other authors also attending the event. While I appreciated having a spot to display and sell my book, all the more fun, was to find the author behind a book I bought. I kept asking around if anyone knew who Carol Michel was (the author of the book I bought.) On the final morning, I sat down at a table and introduced myself to the gal next to me. Guess who she was? Yep, none other than Carol, the author behind my new great find.   

7. You may find a new market for your writing.

Conferences attract writers from many walks of life. Some of them will write for markets that you haven’t considered yet. They might know of a journal or other publication seeking the kinds of things you write. They may know of a publisher who is looking for a book like yours. And you may be able to pass on what you are aware of, to help others. (It’s a community thing.)

8. You will improve your professional effectiveness.

Like other professionals, from doctors, salespersons, schoolteachers, and others who attend continuing education conferences, so too, is this our way to learn more. Joining other writers at these events are an excellent way to for us to continue our education and improve our knowledge about our craft. If you are serious about your writing, then your attendance at such an event will prove that you are committed to your chosen profession.

9. You will make new connections.

Connections could be in the way of editors or agents who show up looking to meet up-and-coming authors. Connections could be newfound writer-friends that you will see time and again at future events. Exchanging business cards and email addresses is great way to not have to say “goodbye” but instead, to keep in touch. And be sure to do just that, by visiting their Facebook page or dropping them a note through email or even mailing them a card if you have their mailing address.

10. You will get inspired.

If you go with an ear to listen, there will be speakers who seem to be talking directly to you. Some have overcome great obstacles in order to succeed. They may be able to give you hope or encouragement or that little push that you need. Either way, you will find the courage to keep on writing.

Every time I join forces with other writers, I come out of it renewed and refreshed with benefits far outweighing what I can accomplish all by my lonesome. It takes action to get out of my zone of solitude and into the room with others. This action, time and again, is my reminder that I am a very real part of a community who values writing and who also consider the art of writing to be as essential as living and breathing.

What about you? Have you attended any events with others who have a shared interest? If so, what can you confer from these benefits? In the wrap-up to this blog series, I hope you too have gained a greater love for your potential as well as the inspiration to be found and created with others.

If you like what I write, please subscribe to get notified of new blog posts.

-Elle-

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Keeping our Family Legacies Alive

Memorial Day:

  • A time of remembering and to honor loved ones
  • A day off from work
  • The time to be with family over a barbecue

The weather is usually warm, as it is right before the summer heat. Some families visit grave sites with flowers for their lost loved ones. This time and these moments invite our stories and make us think about preserving our family legacies, some who had died in war or in service while safeguarding America.

——————————–

FAST FACTS OF THE HISTORY OF MEMORIAL DAY :

The practice of a day of memorial started in ancient times, long before America.

Way back in 431 B.C., soldiers killed in the Peloponnesian War were honored with a public funeral and speech given by Greek statesman Pericles. It was likely the first communal ceremony of recognizing those who had given their life in war. Year after year, ancient Greeks and Romans hosted similar commemorations.

Early memorial celebrations in the United States….

One of the first “Memorial Day” celebrations in the United States was by newly freed slaves. On May 1, 1865, in Charleston, South Carolina, following the end of the Civil War, members of the U.S. Colored Troops and others honored the dead with flowers, prayers, and honorary moments of silence.

By the late 1860s, many Americans had begun hosting tributes to the war’s fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers and flags. States and organizations stepped up in action to pause and remember those gone. In 1886, the Ladies Memorial Association of Columbus, Georgia resolved to commemorate the fallen once a year. This day of memorial became commonly known as “Decoration Day.”  

The Poppy Flower

In the spring of 1915, a Georgia teacher and volunteer war worker, Moina Michael began a campaign to make the poppy a symbol of tribute to all who died in war. Her action was in response to bright red flowers (poppies) being planted in the ravaged lands of France, war-torn by The Great War (WWI). The poppy remains a symbol of remembrance to this day.

The day of memorial becomes Memorial Day.

Later, in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. At first, it was but a three-day weekend for federal employees to pause in their work and honor those who died in war. Three years later, in 1971, Memorial Day became a federal holiday for everyone in America.  

*Historical facts above, in part, were retrieved 5/27/2019 from History Channel, online.

MEMORIAL DAY:

As we gather with family and loved ones this Memorial Day, let’s regard our family legacies with sweet remembrance and a moment of honor, carrying their stories through our generations to come. If we don’t tell our story and the story of our ancestors–and our own story–who will?

—————————

My father, Robert Wells (1943-2015) served a two-year tour in the Navy during the Vietnam War. If only I could remember him, however I am honored he fought for America.

I remember my maternal great-grandmother, Marie (1904-1987). My current writing project, a biography of Marie, involves research in archived newspapers which documented her achievements. Marie was an active participant in the American Legion Auxiliary. Her membership began in the 1940s and she served as Chapter President for her local community and later as District President for her greater area.

As the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization, this auxiliary has many committees which voluntarily serve to help war veterans. One is the Red Poppy Committee. Only today, in preparing for this blog post, did I come to understand the correlation between my research discoveries of her and why poppies are a symbol for this national holiday.  

What is there for you to learn about your family legacies? For those who have read my debut book, Out of Chaos: A Memoir, you may remember my maternal great-grandmother, Marie, or Nana as I called her. When I was young, I struggled to live up to her standards, and am now, through my research coming to a better understanding of who Marie was.

There are many ways to keep your family memories alive, not limited to writing a biography as I am. I have a friend (his name is Andrew,) who, often writes a letter about his remembered loved ones, and passes it on to his many friends—I get his postmarked letters in my mailbox.

Please share in the comments how you can carry their stories forward to future generations.

RESOURCES:

American Legion Auxiliary at
https://www.legion.org/auxiliary

History Channel, online at https://www.history.com/news/8-things-you-may-not-know-about-memorial-day

Moina Michael, American Humanitarian at http://www.greatwar.co.uk/people/moina-belle-michael-biography.htm

Robert Wells, my father, U.S.N.R. 1969.
http://ellemottauthor.com/index.php/dedications/

Marie, my maternal great-grandmother and Past President of American Legion Auxiliary, District 3. http://ellemottauthor.com/index.php/dedications/

Have a safe and Happy Memorial Day weekend. I hope you carry these above thoughts into your days following our holiday.  -Elle-

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Stamp Out Hunger.

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 11, please help to stamp out hunger.

What is the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive?

It is a food drive led by our post office mail carriers and supported by people like you and me. It happens once a year, on the second Saturday in May— Donations to ease hunger in the winter months, like near Thanksgiving and Christmas, tend to spike. Now, six months later, those donations have dwindled. Mail carriers pick up our donations from our homes when they deliver our mail. Next, they deliver our donations to community food pantries.

Stamp Out Hunger is the nation’s largest single-day food drive. This is its 27th year.

When is it again?

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 11. The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is held each year on the second Saturday in May. For me, this is easy to remember—my birthday is in mid-May—each year as I look forward to, or otherwise am aware my birthday is soon, I make the connection that so is this national food drive. For you, it may be easy to remember that it is at about the same time as Mother’s Day.

Who does it help?

It helps anyone in need, regardless of circumstance—the homeless, the working poor, persons who have recently suffered loss from losing their job, or perhaps a house fire or natural disaster, and women and children who have fled from domestic violence, among others.

How do I help stamp out hunger?


1. Gather non perishable food items.

While canned foods are a good option, another option, if not better, is dry goods. I like to think of our mail carriers who not only carry our mail but will be carrying these sacks of food. When it comes to gathering food, I didn’t make a special trip to the grocery story. Instead, I opened my cupboards and pulled out a few things, same as I would if someone came to my door in need. The box of pumpkin stuff, I bought on sale, thinking it would be tasty, yet you know what? I never bake, so add that in. I will be okay without a box of rice and so on. What can you be okay without to help someone out?

2. Bag it and put it by your mail box.

Put the food items in a bag and and set it out by your mailbox in time for the mail delivery tomorrow, Saturday. You may have received a postcard in your mail this past week that looks like this:

If so, tape it to the sack. If you don’t have this post card, mark your bag accordingly so the mail carrier doesn’t miss it.  

3. The mail carrier takes it from there.

Our donations are tax-deductible because all the food collected in this food drive is given directly to non-profit charity food agencies in the community where the food was collected. However, when itemizing your taxes, the proper credit goes to your community agency that will distribute the food—you can find out which agency this is from the website for National Association of Letter Carriers.

Why Help in this Food Drive?

It’s a community thing. Together we can make our community better. Together we can help those who need a helping hand. I help because I used to be on the receiving end—today I am on the giving end.

For me, this opportunity of giving causes me to think of the good works my maternal great-grandmother did in her community. For those who have read my memoir, you likely already know a little about her, as I struggled when a young woman to live up to her standards.

She (Marie) was quite active in her community, and in the 1940s and 1950s spear-headed an organization, Polly’s Pantry, to help those in need. She wrote a weekly column for many years, titled “Needs of the Needy” in Lebanon, Oregon, in which she encouraged community involvement to help the needy.  

In my current writing project, I am learning more about this remarkable woman, my maternal great-grandmother. Each day I dig in to archived newspaper articles and other resources that documented her community volunteer work. This research is not only expanding my understanding, but also lending credence to my next book, a biography of Marie.

She made a difference. We can make a difference—you and me, by joining in this food drive to stamp out hunger. Please share in the comments about your community involvement to help those in need.

Resources:

National Association of Letter Carriers  

https://www.nalc.org/community-service/food-drive

United States Post Office: About Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive

https://about.usps.com/corporate-social-responsibility/nalc-food-drive.htm

About Marie (Conner) Schmidt, née Gosney (1904-1987)

Found on my Dedications Page at https://ellemottauthor.com/index.php/dedications/


Video courtesy of National Association of Letter Carriers.

If you like what I post, please subscribe to get notified of new blog posts.

-Elle-

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Volunteering to Help Schoolchildren

More than 13 million (million!!) American children live in households with uncertain access to food which supports a healthy life.

Schoolchildren who qualify for free or reduced lunches get those lunches only on school days. On Friday afternoons, these kids are each given a Power Pack—a sack which looks like a lunch sack yet is filled to the rim with power food. These Power Packs are provided by Freestore Foodbank and dependent on volunteers to bag the power food for them.

Yesterday, Saturday, I joined other volunteers at the Freestore warehouse and together we bagged nearly 1,500 Power Packs! Fifteen hundred may sound like a lot, but in reality, it barely scratches the surface to keep Cincinnati area kids from going hungry over the weekend.

According to the Freestore Foodbank, these are the stats and how our volunteer work impacts the community:

  1. More than 13 million (million!!) American children live in households with uncertain access to food which supports a healthy life.

 

  1. Donated food items are provided by area grocery stores, local partnerships, and community members and stored at the warehouse for distribution.

 

  1. Volunteers—there were about forty of us in the ware house yesterday—we unloaded pallets of donated food and packed sacks—“Power Packs.”

 

  1. Our warehouse serves 105 sites across the greater metropolitan area of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, distributing these Power Packs to schools.

 

  1. These Power Packs are given to school children on Fridays so they can go home with power food to carry them over until the next school day, Monday.

 

Feeding America is the national association of affiliated food banks, which includes Freestore Foodbank. It is also the largest hunger relief organization, connecting community food pantries in every state of America.

Feeding America and Freestore Foodbank are dependent on volunteers. Another way to reach out with your volunteering support is to contact any soup kitchen, food bank or shelter local to you to find out what they need and how you can help.

Resources

Feeding America
Find your local food bank and who to contact for volunteering, based on your zip code.

The direct link to sign up for volunteering through Feeding America is at  feedingamerica.org.

I hope you will join in the efforts to make our communities a better place for our children. Please share in the comments about your volunteer experience. Together, we can ensure a better tomorrow—Children are our future.

If you like what I post, and haven’t yet subscribed to my newsletter, please do! Link here.

-Elle-

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Sharing is Caring: Coat Drive how-to and more….

Cold weather is on the horizon. It’s time to pull our scarves and hat out of the closet. And it’s time to think of those struggling in the moment who need a scarf or hat—or especially, a warm coat.

Autumn and winter months are a terrible struggle for many people. Low income families with growing children often need help when it comes to sending their child off to school—coats, mittens, and rain or snow boots are a must have. Yet, many parents who already struggle with increasing bills in the winter months (heating bills, for one), can only wonder how to keep their kids safe and warm.

Those experiencing homelessness also have it rough. Sure, there are overnight shelters. Yet, there are not enough shelters and some turn people away for lack of identification or other problems. And some homeless people, who perhaps out of mental illness, are unwilling to turn to these shelters for help. And many over night shelters are just that—overnight—not letting people in until after dark, and then shut their doors early next morning. Outdoor temperatures are still frigid at seven or eight in the morning.

That’s their reality.

We can lift their burdens. Getting a warm coat and other winter gear to those in need can be naturally easy.

Some ways to help are:

  • When you buy yourself a new hat or pair of gloves, grab a second one and donate. Often, stores have sales of “buy one, get one half-price” or of a like-wise bargain—perfect for helping someone.
  • When Christmas shopping (or other holiday shopping), include a coat on your shopping list; a coat for someone in need.
  • As your child(ren) grow out of their coats, donate the old.
  • Keep extra gloves and hats in your everyday bag, or an extra coat or two in your car. When out and about, if you see someone, perhaps someone homeless, who is begging for assistance, offer them one of these extras.
  • Donate to coat drives. These drives are sometimes found through employers, local stores, clubs, schools, churches and synagogues.

Years ago, when living in New Mexico, and starting when the winter months hit, a child’s red wagon was parked in the sanctuary of my church. Coats and toys were collected by putting them in this red wagon. As we congregated for worship services every Sabbath, we’d see the wagon was fuller than the week before.

 

Or, you can run a coat drive yourself. This can be as simple or as involved as you’d like.

Earlier this month, through a community organization I belong to, I helped run a coat drive; a simple one.

Starting a month before our October monthly membership meeting, I put the word out that we would collect coats. I then followed up with messages on Facebook and other online places that our members hang out in. On our meeting night, I designated a table for collections. At the meeting’s conclusion, we bagged up the coats. These will be given to a community agency for disbursement. It was a “one-night” collection and went well.

For a more involved coat drive, visit the website for One Warm Coat. It is a resourceful tool to help you plan and promote your coat drive. They even have a map to click on to find out which agencies or places in your community to donate those coats.

Together, we can make positive change in our communities. We can help those in need. I hope you will join me in the efforts to ease the burden that cold weather brings to low income families, to those experiencing homelessness, and to others who simply need a helping hand.

Resource:
One Warm Coat
https://www.onewarmcoat.org/

Please share in the comments how you plan to get involved, knowing that someone doesn’t have to face the cold season alone.

-Elle-

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“What’s that book you’re reading?”

Have you ever wondered if you should pick up a certain book?

If so, you’re not alone. People turn to others to ask, Is that book any good?”

Have you ever wondered why (or otherwise, been frustrated that) your favorite bookstore or neighborhood library doesn’t carry the book you want?

Many factors go into book buying decisions for these places. And it’s the reviews that count! Every single review, even the critical review stacked next to the 5-star reviews is a powerful and positive influence in the book buying industry. Ultimately, these reviews keep the author writing based on readers’ needs and gets books out into the world.

Have you ever read a book and then thought, “That was great!” or “Gee, I want to tell the author what I think.” (??)

There is a way. It’s called Posting a Review.”

Writing a review for a book is not rocket science. (Trust me, it’s not.)

Tip 1: Say something about the story line without revealing spoilers.

For example, Author Richard DeVall says in his full-length review “Elle Mott is like Marilyn Monroe, men want to rescue her, and women want to be her friend.” (How is she like Marilyn? Rescue—how, why? Women? Who? Tell me more.)

Tip 2: Add your feelings. Could you resonate with the story, even if the details are different? If so, say how and why. Or did you experience that too? If so, say so.  A library worker put this in her review:  “Elle Mott’s chaotic journey makes one appreciate who we have in life and how we get through both trials and victories.”

Tip 3: Keep in mind that stories and memoirs are subjective, and just because it didn’t appeal to you doesn’t mean it won’t appeal to someone else. If it didn’t grab you, explain in your review why you didn’t like the story. That’s what reviews are for. (But) remember that the author put their heart and soul into this piece of work and a lot of time. If you did not like something in the book, be constructive.

An example from my reviews: “Difficult to read at times, but like a train wreck, just couldn’t walk away for long. I found myself back in the pages, rooting for this woman. As the title suggests, she really does make it out of chaos.”

Tip 4: Keep it sweet and simple. A paragraph—your definition of a paragraph—is great. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. More so, think of it as sharing your input with someone. “Elle Mott doesn’t sugarcoat. Instead, she gives us an intimate, unflinching look….” (Emily Hitchcock).

Tip 5:  An author-to-author comparison or the like can be a fun and easy way to give that review. When at my recent author presentation, one reader came up to me and said “It’s like the Ocean 11 movie, only it’s the Ocean 8 movie.” More than once I’ve heard it’s like Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.

In the replying comments found below this post,  a comparison is made with Down And Out In Paris And London by George Orwell.

You may ask, “Where do I post my review?”

Amazon is the leader when it comes to answering that question. However, it is not the only place to shout out your review. Goodreads, which is a community of readers, is another great place. And more simply, where you purchased your book (Barnes & Noble.com or Walmart.com for Kobo and more) is like-wise perfect. If you got it at the library, tell your librarian.

You may say, “Is there another way?”

Comment: “I don’t want to open an account on Goodreads or anywhere else.”

Message me your review and I’ll handle it from there.

Comment: “I don’t want to give my name.”

No problem. If where you post your review lets you do so anonymously, go for it. Another option is to message me your review and let me know not to include your name. I’ll take it from there, respecting your privacy.  It’s the review which counts.

Comment: “Amazon won’t let me.”

It’s true, our industry giant has rules and regulations and restrictions and oh my! If Amazon is a no-go, jump to Barnes and Noble.com or any of the other places mentioned.

Comment: “I’m really not that good at computer stuff.”

No worries—skip the logistics and shoot me a message. I’ll take it from there.

All-in-all, I hope I’ve shared well with you that reviews are ever so important and how to offer a review. For me, as an author, it will help leverage my current debut book and will help me as I write my next book.

Please review “Out of Chaos.”

I write to share not only my story but to hopefully touch you, making a difference in your life; a kindly one. As reviews filter in, you help me, and I help you. It’s a community thing. And I am so glad you are in my community.

Conclusion:

With any book you read, please know that your review is paramount.

In the comments, as a reader, please let me know how have any of the above questions affected you and have any of my answers helped you? If so or if not, share with us, as a community of writers and readers who hope to change our world for the better.

Helpful Links:

Post your review on Amazon. (Link here.)

Post your review on Goodreads. (Link here.)

Post your review on Barnes and Noble. (Link here.)

Message me.

See reviews for my debut book, a memoir, “Out of Chaos.”

-Elle-

*This post was revised on October 2, 2018.

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No longer in Chaos (Author Presentation)

Thank you to Tri-State Freethinkers (TSF) for asking me to share my journey at the September meeting.  TSF is a community involved, social, educational, and activist group. Speakers include local experts and organizations about the science of our world, experience of those from different backgrounds & causes that could use our help.  I was the first of four speakers on this night.

I discussed my debut book, a memoir: “Out of Chaos”.

Yes, my book is published and available for your reading. What is my book about? Well, that’s why I stepped up to the podium on this night at the TSF meeting. Through this group, I have had ample opportunities for volunteering. These volunteering commitments have given me a way to show my gratitude for life today, a life out of chaos.

A recent volunteer commitment took me to the Freestore Foodbank in downtown Cincinnati, near me, here on Liberty Street. It’s a choice pantry, laid out much like a grocery store. Volunteers are needed for keeping shelves stocked, bagging food, and helping customers. On that day, I was a runner. My job was to help load groceries into people’s cars or to help them gather their bags for their walk home. As we’d walk out together—me pushing their shopping cart to their car, it was easy to chat. One woman kept saying she was sorry for being so needy and for almost forgetting to get diapers.

I let her know there was no need to explain or be sorry. I’ve been there before, on the edge, wondering if I’d survive. I know what it is like—that raw empty feeling inside our gut, breaking down our mental and emotional cognition when having to depend on others for our very basics.

Yes, sometimes, I feel as though it’s an effort to choose to volunteer rather than hang out at home. But, I know that all I have to do is show up. From there, any inconvenience is uplifted as my happiness to get out of myself and be a real part of the community shows its face.

When we step up to volunteer, we make a difference in people’s lives. I know this. During the times I needed help, help was at times tough to find.  When I did get help; that help helped me help myself.

No matter what hardships we endure—or what mistakes we made—no matter where we go wrong or where society fails us, we can survive. And more than survive—by doing the action, we can make a life which gives us inner peace, a sense of belonging, purpose, and meaning.

 

A recap of my volunteering thus far with Tri-State Freethinkers:

xxxxxx

 

 

 

How about you? What difficulty have you faced and what has helped you to overcome such a troubling situation? Please share in the comments. Community is a “we thing.”

Together, we can and will make a difference; a positive difference!  -Elle-

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