Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"Book Club for the Homeless"

by Jennifer Wren
People magazine
August 10, 2009 issue

For years Peter Resnik [64], a high-powered Boston lawyer, passed homeless people walking through the park on his way to work. But in 2007 he struck up a casual conversation with one of them, Rob, and now they're the unlikeliest of friends. "As we talked about his life, I could identify with who he was as a person," Peter says. He and Rob (who doesn't want his last name used) had deep discussions about books that Peter brought, such as Water for Elephants and The Kite Runner. After Rob, 50, loaned one of the books to another homeless man last year, an idea was hatched. Peter and outreach worker Ron Tibbetts set up the book club (oasiscoalition.org).

Now every Tuesday, about eight men and women meet at a church for literary talk. During those hours, members gain confidence and build friendships--a welcome break from the harsh realities they face. "It takes my mind off my problems," says Jamie Johnson, 50, who lives in a rooming house. "I'm using my intelligence for something other than watching TV all the time." To Rob, who secured housing in February 2008, "Reading is refreshing to me, [but] the best part is the friendship.

18 comments:

Janna Qualman said...

I found this story heartwarming.

What an incredible difference a simple book - and an offered hand in friendship - can make.

What do you think?

JLC said...

Awesome!

rubberbandgirl said...

I think this is awesome.
Our minds need as much care as our bodies need to be fed.

Hi. I'm new here.

Jessica said...

That's wonderful! A great idea and can open things up for so much more.

Lazy Writer said...

What a wonderful story, Janna! It is amazing what one simple gesture of kindness can create, isn't it?

Stephanie Faris said...

What a good idea. I wouldn't have thought of a book club as a tool for reaching out. It would also be a way to reach out to troubled teens.

septembermom said...

How wonderful that everyone celebrates each other's humanity in this sharing of ideas. Your sense of worth must increase hundredfold when another person listens to your opinion and honors it with a response.

Josh said...

sounds like a wonderful idea, and a great story.

Lori said...

I was just talking about this with my husband one of these days: if people in such difficult situations care anything about books. Well, it looks like they do.

JKB said...

It is really heartwarming. You made me cry.

:-)

Janna Qualman said...

JLC - Yeah! And awesome new profile pic!

rubberbandgirl - Welcome! It's good to have you here. And your point is a good one.

Jessica - How true, so much could come from that book group.

Lazy Writer - Absolutely.

Stephanie - That's an excellent idea!

Janna Qualman said...

septembermom - I agree. And I like your wording there: "honors your response"

Josh - Fo' shizzle.

Lori - I think it's great to know, don't you?

JKB - Aww. :)

Jill Kemerer said...

Thanks for sharing this. I get so wrapped up in my own drama, I forget about the wonderful world we live in. And it is wonderful, knowing the kindness of this man has touched so many lives, including his own.

Melanie Avila said...

What a wonderful program. :) And the fact that it started from a genuine connection is even more heart-warming.

Janna Qualman said...

Jill - It's nice to know there's still good out there.

Melanie - For sure.

Deb Shucka said...

I love this. The example of the power of books in one more arena. The connection between books and friendship. And the fact that the article was in People.

Janna Qualman said...

Deb - Are you a People reader? It's my weekly bliss.

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