Inspired to care

Published 8:48 pm Friday, June 18, 2010

A Suffolk woman used her niece and her volunteer work as inspiration to write a children’s book.

Frances Lawrence, who attends Word and Spirit Worship Center in North Suffolk and runs the food pantry there, penned a children’s book about helping others in their time of need. “Lauren Meets a New Friend in the Schoolyard” recently was released nationwide, and the main character is based on Lawrence’s niece, Lauren.

“I wanted to teach various lessons to children in regards to community work and the things they are confronted with that we as adults deal with every day,” Lawrence said. “I firmly believe if we teach them the importance of community service while they are young, they will grow up understanding and fulfilling the great need we have today.”

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Lawrence’s book focuses on Lauren and her friends, who are playing in the schoolyard one day, when they notice a woman and her son nearby digging through trash for food. They tell their teacher what they saw, and the teacher suggests they organize a food drive to help the local homeless shelter. Lauren ends up meeting the woman and her son at the shelter when she goes to deliver the food, and becomes their friend.

“I want to encourage [children] to care about each other, so when they grow up they’ll be caring adults,” Lawrence said. “We have a grave shortage of volunteers out here. We have people going hungry in one of the richest countries in the world.”

Besides her niece, Lawrence was inspired to write the story by her work at her church in Suffolk, and by volunteer work she did in Texas, where she used to live.

“It always weighed heavy on my heart when I would see mother and child come through to get something to eat in the same soup line,” Lawrence said. “You just wondered, when they left there, what was going to happen.”

The newly-released book is the first of several titles Lawrence plans. Lauren and her friends will be showing up in a few more books, she said.

The book is available through bookstores nationwide and online, as well as from the publisher at Lawrence will hold book signings July 10 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Connie’s Kids, 701 Battlefield Blvd. North in Chesapeake; Aug. 7 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Heaven & Earth Christian Store, 1401 Greenbrier Parkway in Chesapeake; and Aug. 21 from 1 to 3 p.m. at The Velveteen Rabbit, 3115 Western Branch Blvd. in Chesapeake.