Life is quite often a matter of timing, and on occasion convergence. That is definitely the case for the owner of a marketing communications firm, a new author, a woman with a music ministry and a group of women in a Hollywood shelter.
Fifteen years ago Lovelace Lee III, founder of Robert Lucy Creative, gave a man living in a shelter a Bible. Lee remembers that the site of that gold-embossed Bible had drawn men (life hardened men) from across the room to comment and admire.
When Alretha Thomas, author of a self-published semi-autobiographical novel called “Daughter Denied,” signed up with Lee’s company, he remembered the power of what giving a book could do.
“I said this book can do something for women. That was the impetus of the idea,” said Lee, who immediately began researching to find a place to donate copies of the book to. He narrowed the choice down to six candidates and began making calls.
“I made two calls, and ended up calling A Brighter Future, and Cynthia jumped. I could see her leaping through the phone,” Lee said.
Cynthia is Cynthia Arreola with the 22-bed transitional housing program for homeless women–those who are single or have children–operated by the Hollywood YMCA.
” . . . I thought it would be a good read for the women. Currently we have a clinical group for women on Monday, and I thought we could incorporate it into that,” explained Arreola. “There are a lot of issues addressed in the book that are issues women here have dealt with in their own lives. I thought it was a good way to address the women indirectly and to use it as a tool.”
Arreola took the idea to the clinicians who ran the group, and she said they thought it was a marvelous idea.
About a month after Thomas joined his client roster, Lee finally convinced Anna Moore, who is part of a song ministry, to utilize his services.
“She brought up the book; somebody had given it to her,” remembered Lee about Moore’s enthusiasm. “I just smiled, and thought this is it; this is the fit.”
So with Moore’s capital, 12 copies of “Daughter Denied” were delivered to A Brighter Future.
Arreola said the book was such a hit with the women that several things happened. “We didn’t have enough books. We had women (in the shelter) who didn’t necessarily attend group because they are working, and they wanted a copy.”
So Lee, Moore and Thomas delivered 12 more copies to the excited women.
The second result of the donation was that the women in the shelter formed a book club.
“They’re reading “Daughter Denied” in the group, and we’re already looking into other books (to read) so they can continue the book club,” said Arreola, who noted that the book club as well as reading and discussing the novel has brought the women in the group closer together. “There is a lot more awareness about themselves and each other and more levels of respect. They can engage in very important dialogue.”
This is something Arreola had not necessarily seen before, and one of the things that surprised her a bit was how very articulate the women were during their discussions.
Now author Thomas is about to visit the women at A Bright Future.
“It really is interesting that the women of the shelter have gravitated to the books because I think the mother character in the book relates to them,” said Thomas, who wrote her book 10 years ago, and then let it sit on a shelf because life and more than 100 rejection letters from publishers temporarily discouraged her.
“I have this notebook almost three inches thick with those rejections letters. It’s like my inspiration,” said Thomas who intends to show the Brighter Future residents that notebook.
And that is exactly the point, believes Lee of Robert Lucy Creative.
“A lot of people are counted out based on what they came from. . . . Alretha is living proof that it does not matter where you come from, if you apply yourself.”
Song minister Moore, said it was the strength of the story’s teller–young Tina–that struck a chord with her. “She was a strong little girl no matter what the family went through. She was sort of the black sheep. . .but she loved her mom and wanted to be part of the family whatever it took to be there.”
In many respects and quite unexpectedly, “Daughter Denied” has been the catalyst for the creation of a new “family” in Lee, Moore, Thomas and the women at the shelter.