|A picture of the shelf. Isn't it beautiful?|
A few years ago, I was doing research for an article I was writing and came across a website for a local community resource called Zebra Centre. This is a child protection centre that helps children who have been abused or otherwise victimized become everything they're meant to be. These amazing people take these children who have endured the most horrendous circumstances and guide them down a healthier, happier path. And, to me, there is no greater service out there than one dedicated to protecting the welfare of children.
They are a child focused centre, which means that although resources are given to abused parents too, the child is the main concern. And the entire centre reflects this mandate. Everything gives a sense of calm and that the child's interests are of the utmost interest. Each room is colorful and filled with things kids love such as toys, books, big fluffy pillows, stuffies and, of course, video games. I even got to see Hope's Closet, which is a room overflowing with toys that each child coming through the centre gets to chose from.
You have to understand that these kids have been removed from their homes, oftentimes in the middle of the night, without warning. They have only a few minutes to fill up a bag with the precious few things they have. Then they are taken to another temporary home while charges are laid or other issues are dealt with. These kids are scared, lonely and overwhelmed. It's the centre's job to help restore some security and feelings of hope back into their lives. And I think that's fantastic.
I've had the pleasure of interviewing Zebra's former CEO, Barbara Spencer. Since our very first chat a few years ago, I felt a very strong connection with her. She was so passionate about what she did and saw the children she helped as children...not victims or file #456, but a child going through a tough time who just needed love and understanding. She was part of an incredible team of individuals who gave, and continue to give, the gifts of security, self-esteem, self-love and respect to these children who have had it stripped away from them. And, most importantly, she helped to guide these children to defining their own paths in life, refusing to be defined by their terrible experiences or circumstances. These things are only part of our life's experiences. They are not, and can not, be who we are.
Barb inspired me so much, I found the inner strength to tell my own story in my memoir, White Elephants. If nothing else, it can help another child out there know someone has gone through a similar terrible time and found a way to come through it. It shows that with determination and strength, things will get better.
I know what it's like to feel scared and alone. I understand the feeling of loss and confusion when an adult enforces his or her power over you. My brother and I could have used the Zebra Centre when we were growing up. There were no resources like this one for us back then, nor anyone brave enough to step in and help us. But it's okay because this amazing resource is here now helping kids in need today. And somehow, I was brought together with them. I take that to heart.
When I finally got to meet with Barbara, I struggled for months with how I could help the centre...to say 'Thank You' on behalf of me and all the kids out there who have been abused and victimized. I have connected the sales of my books by donating a portion of all book sales to Zebra Centre. And I am in the process of creating another project. I call it, "Chynna's Gift of Reading".
I leaned on three positive ways of getting through some of the toughest times when I was a kid: music, writing and reading. I'm going to give these kids a bookshelf stuffed full of books. I'm also going to give them journals as journaling is an amazing way to direct emotions in a positive way. And I'd love to have your help.
Will you help me make this possible by donating a book? The centre is looking for books for boys and girls between the ages of 3 and 17. That means we need everything from boardbooks to picture books to Middle Grade books/chapter books to books for tweens/teens and young adults. Journals and diaries would also be welcomed.
- If you're an author, feel free to share your book(s) (and don't forget to sign it!).
- If your a publisher, I'd love to have you share any and all of your childrens or YA books that you feel would be appropriate. We'll be sure to list you in appreciation of your donation.
- If you're a friend or someone that just wants to help, I'd love to have you share your favorite book from your childhood. That would be so special.
Join me in being one of those members who surround these children and help me fill the bookshelf for Chynna's Gift of Reading.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.