Saturday, August 13, 2011


Between the dysfunction of our government and the rather bleak financial outlook, I sometimes find myself feeling dispirited (not to mention annoyed, frustrated, shocked, angry or discouraged).  An email I received this afternoon was a wonderful antidote to gloomy thoughts about the future!

We don’t have much contact with young people in our traveling lifestyle (which reminds me of a funny story, totally off-topic:  as we conversed with another retired couple recently, they mentioned the significant health problems of a friend.  I asked how old he is.  The reply?  “Young.  He just got on Medicare.”  Boy, did we laugh about that!)

photo_30So, back to the email, which really cheered me…  My 21-year old niece Claire wrote, detailing how she is spending her time until she returns to school at UC Berkeley in January (pursuing a degree in Peace and Conflict Studies).  Claire has designed for herself a “Read-A-Thon”, raising funds for Building Tomorrow to help build schools in Uganda.  This is an excerpt from her email:

“This fall, I am conducting a five month long Read-a-Thon to benefit a non-profit called Building Tomorrow. This organization constructs schools in Uganda, where many children are unable to attend school due to a lack of funding and infrastructure. I contacted One Day’s Wages, another non-profit that works to end poverty by providing grants to various organizations like Building Tomorrow, a couple weeks ago with my proposal for the Read-a-Thon. They agreed to help me and will even match every dollar I raise.

The goal of this Read-a-Thon is to raise $7,000 and read 7,000 pages between August 7, 2011 and January 7, 2012. I chose these dates because I am not going to be in school this fall because I was recently admitted to UC Berkeley as a spring transfer. Therefore, I decided to further my education by spending these months reading and raising funds for a great cause.”

Claire is posting daily updates on her blog, Reading for Uganda – and her effort has been profiled by Building Tomorrow on their blog, which you can read here.  Besides partnering with Building Tomorrow and working to get the matching funds from One Day’s Wages, she has been inspired by the first book she read (Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox) to contact her Senators and Representatives to see if they might give her a campaign a boost via social media:

“… I’m not sure what kind of responses I’ll get (assuming that I get any), but if Barbara Boxer would just tweet the One Day’s Wages campaign URL, I would be thrilled. I am planning to email Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, Congressional Representative Doris Matsui, State Senator Darrell Steinberg, and Assemblymember Roger Dickinson.”

You go, girl!!   I hope Barbara Boxer will tweet; I don’t have the contacts she does, but I’ll do what I can to get the word out, too.  :)

If you take a look at Claire’s blog, you might feel moved to pledge or contribute, or you may simply enjoy following her daily posts for a glimpse of one person’s inspired effort to make a difference.  I am immensely cheered.


  1. We also need to "read for the US"...we have way too many kids here in our country that cannot read....just sayin'!

  2. Frank and I got to be her first pledge!

    Claire's Aunt Sydney and Uncle Frank

  3. What a great project! It's no wonder you are so proud of Claire.

    Claire is a perfect example of why I always maintain that today's kids and young adults are every bit as good and helpful as any other generation.

    Too often, we only hear bad stuff, so thanks for posting this great story about the great stuff a lot of kids do get involved in.

  4. What a wonderful post... I love to read and so do my kids because I encouraged it when they were young... Something a lot of people do not do! Claire is a beautiful and smart girl. I see why you are so proud of her!
    Have fun & Travel safe

  5. As Rick said too often you only hear the bad stuff-after raising five kids...with all the ups and downs involved we can honestly say we are pleased with how they all turned out...educated, employed and making their own way in the world...
    Claire is an excellent example of the future generation...that makes me smile

  6. There are so many people in need in so many parts of the world -- yes, our own part as well -- and it is good to see people like your Claire taking a personal interest in doing something about it. Will her $7000 do the whole job? Heck, no, but will it help? You bet! Good for her. She is setting a wonderful example for all of us.

  7. Thanks for passing on the hope. I needed some, too.

  8. Our 19 yr old g-daughter just moved into her own studio apt. We were invited over for a housewarming party and as is my habit I migrated over to her bookshelf to see what she was filling her head with.

    I was surprised to see 3/4 filled with classic English Lit. and 1/4 filled with social consciousness works. I was delighted.

    Socrates had an interesting take on the generation that followed him that still rings true today

  9. What a great project. Way to go Claire!

  10. We had the opportunity last Thanksgiving to host a couple of Airmen Trainees from Lackland Airbase in San Antonio for Thanksgiving lunch. They were outstanding young men. They re-established our faith in the young people of America. You don't see people like that rioting in Philadelphia, causing a curfew to be set. There is hope.