Everyday Heroes: Westside Food Bank volunteer Bruce Rosen

Too many kids go to bed hungry. Too many moms reluctantly pour half a glass of milk at dinner to make sure there is some left for breakfast, and too many dads apologetically ask their kids to hang on until breakfast at school.

So today I give thanks for the everyday heroes who fill our food banks. One shining example is my friend Bruce Rosen, a Board member of the Westside Food Bank, who not only works tirelessly to alleviate hunger, but has created an incredible opportunity for the community to participate.


Take the innovative “fruit for a cause” program he spearheaded at the food bank, which invites you to replace floral displays and table centerpieces with beautiful and meaningful displays of fruit that are later donated to the food bank. Not only does this program offer a chance to do something essential, but Bruce does all the legwork — buys the fruit, sets it up, and whisks it to the food bank to be distributed that week. (That clinched it for our kids’ B’Nei Mitzvah!)

Although it has grown to include dozens of congregations, the idea started with one, at our synagogue Kehillat Israel. Over twenty years, Bruce estimates that the program (averaging 100 displays a year, with 150 pounds of fruit in each display) has yielded about 300,000 pounds of fruit since its inception. That’s 300,000 pounds of healthy nourishment that would not have happened.

Maybe you want to try fruit instead of flowers at your celebration. Maybe you want to start building your area’s own “fruit for a cause,” one celebration at a time. Bruce said he would love to talk to you. His contact info is here.

Nourishing beauty

#everydayheroes #kindnessmatters #kindness #saveonelifesavetheworld

Audiobooks and Appreciations

Thank you to everyone who has read, commented on, reviewed, shared your thoughts. It is so appreciated, and I promise I am at work on new material that I hope you will also enjoy.
I wrote SHELTER US to open a window into the intertwined lives of two women whose brokenness is mostly unseen, and who become each other’s heroes in their own ways, modeling in profound ways that kindness matters.

usSince the death of her newborn baby, lawyer-turned-stay-at-home mom Sarah Shaw has been struggling to keep it together for her law professor husband and two young sons. With her husband burying himself in his career and her friendships all having withered, she is lost in a private world of grief. Then one day, walking in LA, Sarah s heart catches at the sight of a young homeless woman pushing a baby in a stroller and saving them becomes her mission. An unlikely bond grows between Sarah and the mother, Josie, whose pride and strained relationship with her own mother prevent her from going home to Oakland. Through her friendship with Josie, Sarah slowly learns that those we love are never far, even in death and that sometimes it is the people we set out to save who save us.

Thank you for your support, recommendations, and shares. And for all of your acts of kindness that make the world better.

Everyday Heroes: Foster-Adoptive Parents, Like Author Rene Denfeld

Today I want to lift up the everyday heroism of foster parents and foster-adoptive parents.

What better way to do so than in the words of one of them. Best-selling, award-winning author Rene Denfeld described the experience of becoming a foster-adoptive mother of three in her illuminating New York Times Modern Love essay — “Four Castaways Make a Family.

I had the pleasure of meeting Rene last week at Diesel Bookstore, where she read from her new novel, The Butterfly Girl, a sequel to The Child Finder. The novels feature a private detective whose own traumatic history draws her to find lost children. (It is an Indie Next Pick for October, Amazon Best Book of the Month, and has received effusive praise from Margaret Atwood and Cheryl Strayed.)

Rene’s lyrical, compelling depictions of characters who, like her, survived trauma-filled childhoods to make lives of beauty and value make her even more of a hero. The New York Times agreed, including her in a list of everday heroes in 2017.

Thank you to all of the foster parents and foster-adoptive parents who day-by-day, through patience and love, are saving the world one life at a time.



#everydayhereoes #kindness #kindnessmatters #saveonelifesavetheworld

Everyday Heroes: You

Here are a few of the “everyday heroes” you told me about in response to the Shelter Us audiobook giveaway:

–  The family and friends of a man with spinabifida who relies on them for care.

– A friend who faces daunting health challenges, including lupus and blindness, but who ends each conversation with laughter and an ‘I love you.’

–  A husband who supports his family and makes them all feel loved, special, and cared for.

–  Teachers. Teachers. Teachers.

Thank you for these beautiful tributes, reminders that heroes are all around us, quietly going about their lives, showing up for us and each other, asking for no recognition while making our world a better place.



#everydayheroes #kindness #kindnessmatters #saveonelifesavetheworld


#Audiobook #Giveaway in Appreciation of #EverydayHeroes


A wise man said recently that an “everyday hero” need not be someone who leads a movement; it can be the person standing by your side saying, “I believe in you. You can do it!” I have been lucky to have such heroes root me on, especially when I wrote and finally published my novel Shelter Us in 2015.

This year, I have had the good fortune to add to that group my new friend and agent, Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency, and the (clearly visionary) editor Joe McNeely at Brilliance Publishing, who believed that Shelter Us should be heard. 

Thanks to them, and the talented narrator, the Shelter Us audiobook launches on October 15!*

To celebrate, I’m giving away 5 copies of the Shelter Us audiobook. Enter by Sunday, Oct. 6 at 5 p.m. PST. (Winners will be announced Monday, October 7, at 5pm PST.)

To enter, comment below, or follow my FB, Instagram or Twitter and tell me about one of your #everydayheroes, and/or how has their #kindness inspired you?

With love and gratitude,


P.S. If you can’t wait for the giveaway and simply must start reading at once, you can BUY the paperback or e-book, or PRE-ORDER the audiobook now.


*The October 15 launch date would have been an excellent pre-birthday present for my miracles-are-everywhere Grandma Lilli, who inspired the character of Bibi’s youthful qualities, who would have turned 104 the next day, and who would have said of all this hoopla, “I can’t believe the whole thing!”

#everydayheroes #kindness #kindnessmatters #saveonelifesavetheworld

Everyday Heroes: Young Leaders

We delivered our college freshman to school this week, and it took a Herculean heroism on my part not to yank him out of his dorm room, whisk him into the rental car, haul him to the airport, and sequester him at home where he belongs. Instead, I gave him a fierce hug, re-read Kelly Corrigan’s N.Y. Times column, and amplified my gratitude for this beautiful healthy child, this kind young man with the self-discipline, independence, and patience to have navigated his journey to this point, with the courage and sense of adventure to leave home.

The actual heroes on my mind this week are the young people leading the world to act with urgency on climate change, kids leading ordinary lives pushed to take extraordinary steps.

While some child activists have become internationally known, other young heroes whose names you may not know are also leading the way, through consistent, persistent work, in small towns and big cities across the world. Please take a moment to read about, and be inspired by:

  1. Autumn Peltier (15) Manitoulin Island, Canada
  2. Mari Copeny (11) Flint, MI
  3. Xiye Bastide (17) New York, NY (by way of Mexico City)
  4. Isra Hirsi (16) Minneapolis, MN

[I found this article fascinating, on the “gender gap” in young climate activists.]

Climate change

Who inspires you? Please leave a comment and share the inspiration. Our world need every single act of big-heartedness it can get.

With love,


#kindnessmatters #everydayheroes #saveonelifesavetheworld







Everyday Hero: Little Free Pantries

Welcome back to the “Save One Life, Save the World?” countdown, celebrating everyday heroes. Today, I would like to introduce you to the Little Free Pantry movement.

I first learned about “Little Free Pantries” in this column by L.A. Times reporter Nita Lelyveld, about the folks who wanted to do something to help people in their community who were struggling. Lelyveld writes, “Many of us, I think, mean to help others in greater need but don’t. Our busy lives swallow us up. Or we decide that as individuals we can’t accomplish much — so we send a check somewhere, or mean to and keep saying to ourselves that we will.”

But that was not the case for three Burbank residents, including young mom Tara Duffy, whose world was turned upside by a car accident. As Lelyveld explains,

With the terrible pain and the budget strain when she had to leave work, no one would have blamed Duffy if she had just holed up and concentrated on getting her family through each day.

Instead, she reevaluated her life.

“And I felt like our world is in a pretty cruddy place and it felt very insurmountable — and I wanted to do something to give back.”

Read Lelyveld’s full column here about how, one step at a time, “everyday heroes” Tara Duffy, and Adam and Monica Karell established Little Free Pantries in their Burbank neighborhood, modeling impactful compassion in action. 

(And if you want to feel even more heartened, or are looking for help, check out this map of hundreds of Little Free Pantries around the country!)

Who inspires you? Please leave a comment and share the inspiration. Our world need every single act of big-heartedness it can get.

With love,


#kindnessmatters #everydayheroes #saveonelifesavetheworld

About “Save One Life, Save the World?”

These posts are part of a countdown to Palisades Reads, a community literary event whose mission is to foster connection, spark conversation, and celebrate books for their ability to build empathy. 

Here’s what I’ve shared so far:

1. This op-ed and interview with author/actress Annabelle Gurwitch about welcoming a homeless couple into her home through a pilot project with Safe Place for Youth.


Save One Life, Save the World?

The world needs — has always needed — everyday heroes, every kind act and impulse each of us can offer.

So I am excited to be moderating a panel discussion calledSave One Life, Save the World? on October 23, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. as part of Palisades Reads, a new annual community literary event whose mission is to foster connection, spark conversation, and celebrate books for their ability to build empathy. The panel relates to the themes in my novel, Shelter Us (Indiebound, Amazon, library), the story of a grieving mother who finds solace helping a young homeless mother regain her stability. In the words of one reviewer, the novel asks readers to consider, “How far would you go to help a stranger in need?” 

What compels ordinary people to step outside their comfort zone to help others? The panelists are not superheroes, but regular folks whose hearts led them to take steps, then more steps, leading to the founding of agencies that help homeless youth, that innovate how to connect homeless individuals to services, and that provide counsel and community to grieving families.

These everyday heroes are living proof of Alicia Keys‘ words: “What people often assume is that in order to make change a reality, you have to have some kind of superhuman quality and power inside of you. You don’t have to be a politician, or a scholar or a singer or a celebrity to recognize a problem and work towards fixing it by empowering others around you to take up the fight. You have to be you and that makes it all the more valiant.

To honor everyday heroes, in a countdown to the panel I will be sharing stories about people who are making the world better with small and large acts of kindness. I hope their stories will send ripples of inspiration, to tell anyone who wonders if they can make a difference: Yes, you can. And yes, you must, for no one else can bring forth your unique gifts. It’s all hands on deck.

To start, today I’m sharing this op-ed and this AirTalk interview with author/actress Annabelle Gurwitch, in which she describes her experience welcoming a homeless couple into her home through a pilot project with Safe Place for Youth (one of the participants in the Palisades Reads panel Oct 23, 6:30 p.m.) 

Let’s send ripples of kindness out into the world. Please share this post, and leave a comment about who inspires you, or how you help others. Our world need every single small act of big-heartedness it can get.

And please join me if you can for an inspiring, motivating, heart-lifting evening:

“Save One Life, Save the World” Panel, October 23, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Pacific Palisades Branch Library, 861 Alma Real Drive, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

With love,


#saveonelifesavetheworld  #everydayheroes



How to foster connection, community, conversation…read, gather, party.

Thank you to the Friends of the Palisades Library for this awesome honor. Please join us in kicking off what should be a community tradition for decades to come! (To help launch this event, I am offering author visits and copies of Shelter Us to schools, libraries, and local non-profit groups.) Announcing…


Palisades Reads is a community-wide book club in which the public is invited to read one book to foster connections and community, spark conversations, and celebrate reading.
For its inaugural year, the Friends of the Library have selected Shelter Us: A Novel. Set in Pacific Palisades, Shelter Us explores many layers of the human experience – marriage and parenthood, joy and grief, and what moves us to help someone in need.  

Save the Dates:

October 23, 2019, 6:30 – 8 p.m.

Kick-off Party & Panel Discussion: Save one life, save the world?

What moves us to action? What compels us to help another person? What does it take to step outside our comfort zone? Join leaders from Safe Place for Youth, Palisades Task Force on Homelessness, and others to explores these questions raised by the novel.

November 13, 2019, 6:30 – 8 p.m.

Community Book Club Night
Bring your friends, neighbors and book club for conversation and refreshments.

How to survive the first day of school blues.

Today is the first day of high school for my baby, the one who proclaimed after dropping out of pre-school that he was never going back to school. The end of summer always drops on his head like an avalanche.

I find myself wishing that he had the same positive anticipation of the first day of school that I used to have, instead of the pinching anxiety. Then I wonder — am I remembering it wrong through the haze of decades?

In my recollection, at least in elementary school, first days meant all good things — bringing new school supplies and wearing a new outfit; finding my name written in the teacher’s neat printing on a crisply folded cardstock; seeing which friends would be in my class.

But if I roll the tape to middle and high school, the picture changes – I remember that sudden squeezing stress of a Sunday afternoon, and I understand him better.

I do recall one coping strategy I tried in my Senior year in high school, the same institution that now holds my child. The first day of school, I decided to try to hold onto the summer feeling as long as I could, to trick myself into believing that it was still summer, the only difference was that during the day I was hanging out with my friends at school and not the beach. The trick didn’t last the week.

Now our kids go back to school when it actually is still summer! No wonder it hurts.

Not just that, but as he zipped his backpack, there was this question, the question: Do you think my school is safe? As if his meaning weren’t clear enough he added, There have been shootings in California, you know. We have drills once a month.

I made a split second decision to make up a statistic about lightning striking, because what the hell else could I say in that moment. Then I hugged him and handed him his lunch bag. Time to go.

As I drove him to school, he took a few slow deep breaths, settling and soothing himself in preparation for the onslaught of six new teachers and their expectations. As I wait for him to come home this afternoon, I realize that I’d better do the same.

All of this makes me wonder, what does “normal stress” for a teenager look and feel and sound like? What are your memories of back-to-school — the blues or blue skies? How do your kids anticipate the first day of school? What eases the transition?  All funny comments get extra points!