Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Women Who Rock (for a cause!) Wednesday: Teri Brown & CPAH!

Welcome to Women Who Rock (for a cause!) Wednesday! This December I've been profiling some women that I feel very proud to know because of the work they do to help other people and our planet. Today, we are going to talk to Teri Brown, who many of you may know from her YA novel, Read My Lips, but did you also know that she runs a book club for teens in need through Community Partners for Affordable Housing in Oregon?

Here she is with her book club, let's find out more about it, shall we?

Q: Tell us about your organization, how you got involved and why you are inspired to keep working with it on a volunteer basis in addition to all your other responsibilities.

Teri: I got involved with Community Partners for Affordable Housing through Craigslist. I never even knew such an organization existed in my area, but I am so glad it does. Basically, CPAH fights poverty on many levels. They offer low income housing, which is so important in this economy, but they do more than that. Each of the properties has a community center where they offer access to drug and alcohol support groups, parenting classes, bi-monthly access to a social worker, food donations and childrens programs, including an after-school homework center and a program to teach teens about personal finance.

I got a job with the after-school program and realized that while the children's book shelves were overloaded, there were very few offerings for teens. I put out a call to my YA author friends and books arrived by the boxful. Once I had a good YA library, I spoke to the director about creating a book club for tweens and teens. She loved the idea and our book club was born. Once again, I went door to door begging for books... okay, not door to door, more like email to email. This was more difficult because I needed ten of the same books and that's a lot for an author to come up with! But young adult authors love teens and I have managed to keep the book club going for almost two years on donated books! I try to include authors from the area or ones who are coming to Portland, because the girls, (and one boy), love to meet and talk to the authors. I also wanted the girls to keep their books so they could start building their own library. They may not have a lot, but they each have a set of books autographed by some of the best young adult authors out there!

When the club started I figured I had three dedicated readers. Now I have ten. Which is huge considering some of the obstacles they are facing. I love these kids and honestly feel book club has made a difference in their lives. I know it has in mine!

Q: How can we help? Is there a way to donate or spread the word?

Teri: Yes! You can go to and donate or contact me at diddymon (at) verizon (dot) net to make a donation of books. I still have room on the shelves for more YA books!

Q: I have two questions that I always ask my Women Who Rock, the first is a two-parter. What was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge, we like to see the roots of our women who rock!

Teri: The first album I bought myself was Pink Floyd's, The Wall. I was a rebel at heart, (Okay, I still am!) and I loved the song, Another Brick in the Wall. I lived in Alfalfa, Oregon, which was very rural, and I always felt out of place. As a reader, I knew there was a bigger world out there, but it seemed unobtainable. The album, The Wall, spoke directly to my feelings of personal isolation.

My first concert was a Portland hair band called Black and Blue. Great music, but hair bands were on their way out, so they never went anywhere, though the drummer from Black and Blue now plays with KISS!

Q: Tell us about your biggest rock star moment, perhaps it's a moment of real success in your career, a time when you met someone super cool and had that Wayne's World "I'm not worthy" moment, or just a time where you felt like you got the rock star treatment. I get a huge variety of answers for the questions, so it's pretty much whatever "rock star moment" means to you!

Teri: I think it would have to be my 20th high school reunion. I traveled to Central Oregon to do a promo spot on a morning show for a nonfiction book that had just been released. I did it in the morning and went to the reunion that night. I was pretty much a nobody at highschool and I can tell you, the satisfaction I had when someone recognized me from the show and told everyone about it that night, was pretty much the most amazing thing ever. Oh, that and the mean, popular girl from school was fat.

What Teri does is truly amazing. She is giving these kids such a great gift with these books. Won't you help me spread the word about Teri and book club? If you do, you'll earn entries in...

December's Big WWRW Contest!

As you probably know by now, this month, I'm doing one big Women Who Rock Wednesday contest. The grand prize winner will get copies of both of my books I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE and BALLADS OF SUBURBIA signed and, even more importantly, they will get to choose which charity I donate to at the end of the month. You'll find the list of charities below.

Here are the ways you can tally up entries this week:

+1 for leaving a comment
+1 for tweeting or linking to this blog entry
+1 for tweeting or linking to the Community Partners for Affordable Housing website
+5 for posting about Community Partners for Affordable Housing on your blog, myspace or facebook page
+15 for donating either books (through Teri, her email is above) or $ to Community Partners for Affordable Housing

Please note your additional entries in your comment. Provide links when you can. Please also leave an email address in your comment so you can be contacted if you win!

Also there are the still first three charities/organizations to spread the word about to tally up more entries for this contest. Don't forget to check out the blogs about Keep On Keeping On, Real Change, and Pizza Fusion and enter those contests.

I *might* have one more interview for you next week with the women who start SAFE Alternatives, (SAFE stands for Self Abuse Finally Ends) a treatment program for those who self injure, which as you know is an issue very close to my heart, but it's a busy time of year so I may not be able to get that posted in time. So, we may just be drawing the winner next week. So that means it's important to get your entries in (and sadly not that many folks have been entering, I know it's a busy time and these aren't the coolest prizes in the world, but spreading the word about these organizations is a great way to build holiday spirit!). And also, it's time to pick which charity you would like me to donate to if you are the winner.

So please, include with your comment, which of these charities you'd like to see me donate to (I know they are all amazing, but please pick only one):

-Sarah's Inn (this is the domestic violence agency that I talked about in my very first blog entry about this month long contest, and I also talk about it my local newspaper in a column I wrote about the important of giving today, which you can find here.)

-Keep On Keeping On (an org that assists those with physical disabilities, blog about that one here)

-Real Change Homelessness Empowerment Project (blog about that one here)

-Earth Justice (a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. Suggested by Katie of Pizza Fusion, who was interviewed here.)

So please enter away and spread the word about all these important organizations!


pepsivanilla said...

This is an awesome program! I can't believe I've never heard of it. I think teens kind of fall through the cracks in some programs, so it's great that this one is providing books for them.

If I win, I pick CPAH for the donation :)


marina said...

that program sounds pretty freakin' rad. i can dig it. (apparently i'm from like a 70s movie tonight)


Llehn said...

My vote for charity goes to Sarah's Inn mainly because it's about empowering women who have been abused and that is a very important step for them to get out of the cycle.


Natalie said...

+1 It's so awesome that she's both an author AND runs a charity group! I think I just found a new idol! It's always nice to hear about what authors do outside of writing, and this is DEFINITELY a worthy cause!

+1 Tweeted this post
+1 Tweeted CPAH

If I win, I'd have to pick SAFE because, like you, self abuse is an issue that's very close to my heart. I've had several friends that had problems with it over the years, and I've see firsthand how difficult it is to break the habit once it's started.

This is an awesome idea for a contest and promoting charity organizations! Thanks for the opportunity!


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Andrea F. said...

Reading is so important. I'm a teenager, and honestly reading helps me de-stress. Like with your books, Ms. Kuehnert, they let me know I'm not always alone with my feelings/experiences.

I'm going to contact Ms. Brown to see if I can donate some books.