Two-thirds of my life has been spent in Spring Lake, Michigan. It was the home of my adolescence and it’s my home again as an adult. Spring Lake has helped to make me who I am. 

Last year, our community discussed a critical issue: bullying and, more importantly, empathy. By reading Emily Bazelon’s book, Sticks and Stones, we raised difficult questions. We reflected. We came to an understanding and we wanted to continue the conversation. 

It means everything that I can give back to it–with this book: Elevate Empathy: The Power of Kindness.

Elevate Empathy: The Power of Kindness was written with help from eighteen other contributors, Carlyn Arteaga (a high school senior who directly inserted herself into the success of the book club). Local book publisher, Dan Ireland and his company, Three Leaf Press, agreed to publish under the most rare terms: not for profit. Anything we earn with these printed words will be given back to the community in order to raise empathy.

Empathy is powerful. It makes all involved elevate. It makes all involved–the one who gives empathy and the one who receives empathy–better. Empathy allows us to reach our potential while bullying keeps us from it.

As we learned through our book club last fall, empathy–understanding each other–is the way to a better community, a better nation, a better world. 

Emily Bazelon, herself, wrote the introduction for our book. In it, she writes, “These pieces are full of insight and wisdom, writ small and writ large, and I’m honored to have played a small part in spurring this project.”

For those in the West Michigan area, please note that The Bookman in Grand Haven, Michigan will be hosting a one-hour event where some of the contributors will read from the book and where we will all engage in a short discussion on the state of bullying and empathy in our community. Elevate Empathy: The Power of Kindness will be on sale during that event or through Amazon. 

There are too many people to thank, but, mostly, I need to thank the community. It has raised me in many ways. Now, I’m just glad I can give back.

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