Like so many great ideas, our first children’s book started at the kitchen table. Rebekah and Onya came to Ilana’s parents’ house to see how they felt about our ambitious idea to write a story from a child’s perspective about child and youth homelessness in Westchester. We were blessed that they offered their time and support as her father, Mort, is a retired journalist and her mother, Anita, is a retired art teacher and artist skilled at painting faces that brimmed with emotion. After they said ‘yes’ and Anita offered to donate illustrations for our short book, WCA staff went to work crafting a story that is simple enough to tell a child but about the complex issue of homelessness. We went through many drafts and realized the vast difference between writing for advocacy and writing a creative story. During the creative process, the Fleischner’s became like extended family and generously stopped by our White Plains office to share sketches and give helpful feedback. Wendy’s story became a labor of love for everyone (even their dog Bella.) Wendy’s story was finally published with Anita’s beautiful illustrations in November 2019 under the title ‘Wendy Finds A Home in Westchester.’ We were anxious and proud as we sent copies to our supporters, partners, and friends.
Our blessings multiplied when actor Michael Boatman agreed to read our story for a video reading that would be shared on YouTube and online. His comforting voice and twinkling personality added life to Wendy’s story and helped us reach a larger audience. Limarie directed the taping using our own makeshift setup of a recording studio in Rebekah’s office. Onya helped by making the script easier to read and kept our audience in mind as she taped another version for social media. When it was over, Michael Boatman chatted with WCA staff and shared many insights into his experiences of relaying difficult topics to his kids and the inner workings of the entertainment industry. You can see and hear the whole book as Michael Boatman reads to you “Wendy Finds a Home in Westchester.”
Thank you for traveling with us on our journey!
Click the picture to hear Wendy’s Story read by Michael Boatman!