Author encourages community service

Published 10:22 pm Thursday, September 16, 2010

It was Tuesday, and Tuesday was not the day for handing out laundry at the New York homeless shelter where Frances Lawrence was volunteering.

She was sorting it when a young woman approached her.

“We handed out different living necessities on different days,” Lawrence said. “One day we would hand out toiletries. Another we’d hand out laundry. Tuesday wasn’t laundry day, but she asked me for a pair of underwear. ‘I know you don’t do it on Tuesday, but can you give me a pair of underwear for today?’ she asked.”

It was almost 10 years ago, but it was encounters such as that that sear themselves in Lawrence’s mind and inspired her children’s book series.

Lawrence, a Suffolk resident, is holding a book signing of “Lauren Meets a New Friend in the School Yard,” the first in her series of books, at The Velveteen Rabbit in Chesapeake on Saturday, 1-3 p.m.

“The series is about teaching our young people about community service and the importance of caring for one another,” Lawrence said. “I’ve been volunteering my whole life. It’s my inspiration in terms of encouraging others to help others.”

Lawrence began writing the books in 2007 and is still completing the rest of the series.

She began to write a series of books on community service to give to her nieces and nephews with the hope of encouraging them to do likewise.

To do so, she has transferred some of her experiences into terms and situations a child will understand.

“The first book is about Lauren and her friends,” Lawrence said. “They’re playing on the playground and notice a homeless boy and his mother digging through a trashcan. Instead of picking on them, they run to the teacher and try to find a way to help them.”

The homeless population is one problem that Lawrence hopes current and future generations can help correct.

“I don’t understand why we have a growing homeless population,” Lawrence said. “I’ve been in service since the late ‘80s and the numbers keep growing. I don’t get it. Hopefully, we’ll be able to encourage our children to continue to help those in need.”