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Foreword --- By Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey

    Note: the following is a partial excerpt of the foreword. Click the book to read the rest, by ordering Almost Home. I’ve learned that real heroes usually aren’t the kind of people you read about in newspapers or see on TV. Real heroes are usually the ones concerned with the least glamorous of things. In fact, I’ve come to believe strongly that the most heroic or biggest thing we can do in any day is a small act of kindness, decency, or love. What frustrates me is that so often we allow our inability to do the big things to undermine our determination to do the small things, those acts of kindness, decency and love that in their aggregate over days, weeks and years make powerful change. My parents raised me to know this. They raised me to understand that I was the result of a vast and profound conspiracy of love. My father for example was born poor. In fact, he jokes now that he wasn’t born poor, he was born “Po”--­‐--­‐ he couldn’t afford the other two letters. He was born to a single mother who couldn’t take care of him, and after his grandmother couldn’t take care of him either, it was the kindness and love of strangers that stabilized his life and gave him a foundation to eventually head off to college. This past Thanksgiving as my family was going around the table saying what we were thankful for, my father got a little emotional talking about his childhood and how people whose names he couldn’t even remember helped him. He talked about how when he was college aged, people reached out and gave him dollar bills to ensure he could afford his first semester’s tuition. Time and time again, my parents reminded me that there were thousands of people over numerous generations who did for


my family and our ancestors. All that I have now is the result, not only of famous people from history, but mostly of ordinary Americans who showed extraordinary kindness – small acts that were not required of them but they just did. I am proud of that part of our American history. I am proud that, though I don’t know their names, there were so many people who just did; they mentored and marched, they served and sacrificed, they loved. We in this nation drink deeply from wells of freedom and liberty that we did not dig; we eat from lavish banquet tables that were prepared for us by our common ancestors. And we can either sit back and consume all that has been placed before us, or we can choose to remember. We may not remember names or dates, but we can remember this spirit, that soulfulness, the conspiracy of love that so shaped our nation and experiences. And more than remember, we can metabolize our blessings and keep the conspiracy alive. In Newark, I often get to witness people who are the modern day manifestation of this spirit of humility and service. I encounter and work with people who are focused on the least glamorous of things and yet make some of the most profound differences in our city. In fact, I am proud that the spirit that took my father, from a “Po” boy without a home, to a college graduate, IBM executive and even father of two children is alive and well. Three blocks away from City Hall is a place called Covenant House. They work with youth, and I believe they see in each one the same potential, promise, dignity, and hope that people saw when they looked at my dad back in the 1940s and ’50s. They serve homeless youth, but I actually think that through what they do, they serve us all. They do the wonderfully unglamorous things; they perform significant and unyielding small acts of kindness, decency, and love. They empower lives and change destinies. They know that it actually doesn’t take all that much to keep a young life from veering far off track.


In the stories you'll find in this book, there are several crossroads, where a kid's fate turns on the next encounter – will a kind person comes along, or will it be a mugger, or a hater, or worse? Sometimes it's an elderly couple who give a kid a lift to a homeless shelter. Sometimes it's a counselor who says, "You look like you need to talk." Sometimes it's a barber who sees potential and hires someone fresh out of jail, lending him tools of the trade, or a friend's mom who lets a kid crash in the guest room for a couple weeks. Sometimes it's a coach or a teacher or a volunteer who provides the belief and encouragement that lights a fire in a young heart. None of these actions cost the grownups all that much, but each act of kindness and love from a humble hero can form a turning point for a kid who needs direction. At Covenant House, the stakes are higher than at many other places. Covenant House workers have one main goal: to love kids the world too often calls unlovable – they want to keep the conspiracy of love alive for everyone, to ensure that no one is left without. It's not always easy work, but they try hard to bring open and loving hearts to kids who, often, don't believe that adults can possibly care – no one has before, why should some stranger start now? I've encountered other disadvantaged young people in my travels, I've seen their uncertainty, or worse, the way their eyes seem to shut down in the face of poverty and hopelessness. But at Covenant House, I see enthusiasm in the eyes of the young people, their hope, and how they know big things are possible for them. Click the book to read the rest, by ordering Almost Home.

Please join us on Twitter using the hashtag #WhatIsHome and let your followers know what home means to you, while discovering what it means to so many others.


Almost Home Excerpt  

Almost Home tells the stories of six remarkable young people from across the United States and Canada as they confront life alone on the str...

Almost Home Excerpt  

Almost Home tells the stories of six remarkable young people from across the United States and Canada as they confront life alone on the str...

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