In one of the rooms in our new Reading Center we're showcasing inspirational and motivational quotes in a mural. As I read the quotes I realize the words are as much for me as they are for the teens. Maybe you'll agree -- we'd be moving mountains much faster if we all believed these words...
Our Literacy Program's goal is focused on lifelong learning and upon making a positive impact on the growth of our student readers. To this end we're making plans to fill our space with thousands of children pre-K through teenagers.
Feeling connected to the children we serve is so important to all of us. In every box of pajamas and books we send to group homes and shelters we include a sheet called Pajama Program's Kids Blog sheet.
A few weeks ago, a filmmaker for Radio Free Europe spent the day with my family at our home in upstate New York documenting our "ordinary" moments. Olga Loginova, the filmmaker, wanted to show the world there are "successful Russian adoptions."
A sad lesson we have learned over our 11 years is that too often, children in foster care have little that they can call their own. We have been working to help change that sad fact, even just a little.
Through all the dark shadows that Russia has cast with its ban on adoptions by Americans -- on the affected girls and boys, on the U.S. citizens seeking to become their parents and on the process of international adoption itself -- a thin glimmer of light is struggling to emerge.
Letters and notes from the children we serve have guided me to five answers, especially where our teens are concerned: Listen. Don't judge. Hear their call for help. Take a step toward, not away, from them. Never forget them.
All Cindy Kaplan had hoped for was a healthy baby. But when my friend and her husband met their 6-month-old son for the first time in an orphanage in Kazakhstan, he was dangerously underweight from severe malnourishment.
When travelers to Cambodia ask me "Well, which orphanage is good that I could visit today?" my answer is "Any orphanage that will let you walk in off the street and subjects children to a revolving door of visiting volunteers is not one you want to support."
Sometimes I am sure I see a spark in a child's eye when he's on line with his classmates to put his gifts on the bus that tells me he gets it -- it's about helping someone else, not just once, but in the days and years to come.
Have you ever visited somewhere and it stayed with you for a time after you left? Not in a nostalgic way, but in a way that lingers, like it has reached in and altered you slightly. That's how visiting Cambodia was for me.
I no longer yearn for those pot of gold gifts I wanted when I was younger - a jaguar to drive and a fancy house to live in. I am grateful for my pajamas and books just as much as the little boy in the letter is. And I know giving is the real gift.
There are many other aspects to being a woman -- to being human -- that can't be expressed through memoir. For an alternate narrative experience, read the novel The Salt God's Daughter by Ilie Ruby -- a lyrical, luxuriantly mystical meditation on being female.
It's very easy for us to give a check or start a nonprofit without ever trying to understand the problem or the community in which we place our money and time. In spite of our good intentions, we have to realize that we can harm people.