Soul. Oh!

Portrait from "Giving Back" | Charles W. Thomas Jr., photographer

Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.” ― Marsha Norman

Through the book Giving Back, we venture to dream a bigger dream and to ignite a movement of conscientious philanthropy by empowering a generation of Americans to recognize their power and responsibility to give back. ― VF

For a truer, deeper understanding of American philanthropy

[Giving Back] is a must read for all who want a truer and deeper understanding of American philanthropy in particular philanthropy in the Black community. Historical analysis and rich personal stories…it’s all here.”

 Wenda Weekes Moore, trustee, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Over the Moon

Over the past week, I’ve begun receiving “advance commentary” on Giving Back. Selected readers of prominence, from across the country, have been more than generous with praise of the book’s stories and photography, and their affirmation means the world to me.

For more than four years, I was burrowed deeply in a writer’s hole and afflicted with a brutal case of tunnel vision in order to make this book happen. Making it happen meant not only generating the book’s content but also raising considerable funds and navigating the publishing industry, all of which were foreign to me.

Nevertheless, nothing could keep me from where my sights were cast. With remarkable clarity from the start, my mind’s eye held tight a vision that only sharpened over time. Though the vision was clear, the path was uncertain…really uncertain and seemingly treacherous at times. Trusting a gut sense while feeling my way through the dark and benefiting from gracious gestures made by Charles, family, friends and giving circle members helped move the book project forward.

After following a path that has tested every ounce of my soul and being, I’m sent higher than the sky to find that Giving Back can withstand the brightness outside the burrow and, in fact, shows best in the light of the wider world. When readers tell me they’ve seen, felt, thought and learned the things I long hoped someone…anyone…would, then it seems the years, the sacrifices and the times being misunderstood have been worth it.

Here’s one of the submissions from an advance reader that sent me flying over the moon:

“Astonishing . . . so beautiful, so deep and yet so inviting.

Giving Back belongs in every American home, not just every home of Americans of African descent. Each page connects the readers and the children they love to generosity that God, the Declaration of Independence and our awe-inspiring Black forebears taught us all.  A visual triumph. A story that has not been told!”

Dr. Claire Gaudiani, author of The Greater Good, Generosity Unbound and Daughters of the Democracy