It all started when 14-year old Hannah Salwen, idealistic but troubled by a growing sense of injustice in the world, had a eureka moment when a homeless man in her neighborhood was juxtaposed against a glistening Mercedes coupe. “You know, Dad,” she said, pointing, “If that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal.”
This glaring disparity led the Salwen family of four, caught up like so many other Americans in this age of consumption and waste, to follow Hannah’s urge to do something, to finally just do something. And so they embarked on an incredible journey together from which there would be no turning back. They decided to sell their Atlanta mansion, downsize to a house half its size, and give half of their profits to a worthy charity. At first it was an outlandish scheme. “What, are you crazy? No way!” Then it was a challenge. “We are TOTALLY doing this.” Each week they met over dinner to discuss their plan. It would transport them across the globe and well out of their comfort zone. Along the way they would inspire so many others wrestling with the same questions: Do I give enough? How much is enough? How can I make an impact in the world? In the end the Salwens’ journey would bring them closer as a family, as they discovered, together, that half could be so much more.
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This is a story that makes you think of all the excess we have around us. The Salwen’s made a decision to work together to downsize their home and their lives and in doing so – they gave much to others.
You may read this book and about the Salwen’s life and think, “well, they had a lot to begin with. A great home, vehicles, not really wanting for anything….” I will admit as I started this story that is what I was thinking… yet as I read on I came to realize that what this book is really about is not so much about the Salwen family – as is it about the changes we can make in our own lives big or small that can help others. The Salwens story is an example of what one family can do.
I love how this was not a one persons vision – but an effort that not only brought great joy to those with less, but also brought the Salwen’s closer as a family. While there are some parts of this books that felt a little to “look what I did”, I felt overall the book gives a good message of how we can all make changes.
This book was an inspiration and in light of reading this I plan to offer a challenge starting April 1 where I encourage each of us to think about something we can give up (or cut back on) for a month and instead put that money that we would be spending (on that cup of coffee, ice cream, movie nights, out to dinners…) and put it away to be given to a cause dear to your heart at the end of April.
More details to come.
I received my review copy from FSB Associates
This book reminded me a little of a book I read quite a while ago and RAVED about. It was called the Kingdom Assignment and it will be part of what I am planning for April 1.