Sunday, August 24, 2008


Years ago, I became aware of the City of Hope created in Memphis, Tennessee by the late actor, Danny Thomas, to bring health to children. It was his dream that “no child should die in the dawn of life.” This noble undertaking developed into what became the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. St. Jude’s work first came to my attention through a Radio telethon. I made what I now consider a modest contribution, and have contributed haphazardly ever since, but if I had had first hand knowledge of the institution’s work, I would have been far more generous.
In a gesture of support for St. Jude, Harlequin Enterprises agreed to publish two novels that cast light on St. Jude’s activities. When the General Manager of Harlequin’s Kimani Press/Arabesque line asked if I would write one of the two books in a romance series (Novels Of Hope) that would reflect upon St. Jude’s work, I did not hesitate to accept. (Sandra Kitt is writing the other book.) St. Jude’s staff members feel that too few parents, particularly African-Americans, are aware of the care available to sick children without charge if there is no insurance. It was thought that, owing to the great popularity of romance novels, they would be a good venue through which to introduce to parents the loving and efficient care available at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Because of my own experience as mother of a desperately-ill child who--by God’s mercy and the care of specialists--recovered fully, I am totally empathetic with sick children and their parents, and I consider it an honor to be a Partner in Hope. The books are not about St. Jude. They are romance novels in which, by their actions, the characters inform the reader about this great institution and the care it gives.
On my first visit to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, I saw in its research department, dedicated doctors and scientists--including a Nobel Laureate,who strive to find cures and to develop effective treatments for childhood cancers, sickle cell disease and pediatric HIV/AIDS. But I must say that I was most deeply impressed by the loving attention that the staff gave to the children. These women and men could not have been more attentive, loving and caring with those children if they had been the children’s mothers and fathers. The areas where care is given is for the children: colorful and educational, and along the hallways, paintings and drawings of interest to children are at their eye level. Ceilings are bright star-filled skies. The sick children are not transported in wheel chairs but in wagons made like ducks, rabbits and so on. It seemed to me that the institution spares no effort to lighten the psychological effect of the illness upon the sick children and their parents. The environment discourages sadness, at least for me.
Imagine a place where a sick child can get the best help that is available without cost to its parents! That’s why I am a Partner in Hope, and I shall remain one long after this project ends.
Look for FOR ALL WE KNOW by Sandra Kitt, coming in September 2008 and for WHAT MATTERS MOST, by Gwynne Forster, to be released in October 2008.